Medicaid expansion update and how an initiative becomes law

BOISE - November is only four months away and something Idahoans are wondering is what initiatives they will be voting for on the ballot, and how the initiative signatures are verified.

Both advocates and opponents of Medicaid expansion are awaiting word on whether or not the initiative will be on November’s ballot. Those counting names say that news will come soon, likely in the next few days.

Tim Hurst, Deputy Secretary of State says, "The counties have 30 days to verify the signatures, and they've already gone through that process.”

Something not all are familiar with is the actual process of getting these things on the ballot.

Twenty four states have the initiative process, and Idaho is one of them. Once a sufficient number of signatures has been collected, the proposal is then placed on the ballot, for a vote of the people.

But, before just being placed on the ballot, those signatures from the initiative have to be verified.

In Idaho, Hurst tells us that the signatures have to include 6% of Idaho voters. Of that 6% has to be representation from 18 different legislative districts.

It is up to the county clerk to verify those signatures are valid by looking up voter registration cards, then comparing the signature and making sure it is valid.

The next stop for the initiative is the Secretary of State’s office. 

"Petition gatherers then bring those to our office, and we count up or add up the number of valid signatures,” says Hurst.

And the campaign election specialists are finishing that process currently. Crystal Schultze is one of those specialists, "I do a count first, and enter each of the certified pages from the county, I enter those, and then give that over to Dorothy, and she re-enters them.”

Then once the numbers are compared and equal, the process is complete.

Historical horse racing, the other major initiative, was declared on Tuesday to have met the requirements to be on the ballot. That makes it the first initiative to qualify for the Idaho ballot since lawmakers tightened requirements in 2013.

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