Secretary of State Ben Ysursa on Monday reminded voters who may wish to change their Democratic, Libertarian or Constitution party affiliation to vote in the May 20 Republican primary that they have just two working weeks to re-register with their county clerk.
The March 14 deadline coincides with the end of the two-week filing period for candidates for county, legislative, statewide and federal office. Ysursa’s news release came Monday morning, as the candidate filing period opened.
Idaho’s chief elections officer and a co-chair of Gov. Butch Otter’s re-election campaign, Ysursa appeared to echo what Otter told Farmers Insurance agents Thursday — that his campaign will supply supporters with timelines to prepare for the primary.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of people that just don’t want to sign that piece of paper and pledge that they are a Republican, but anyway, when we get the calendar put together there’s certain things you’re going to have to do at certain times,” Otter told agents who asked how to support him in his campaign against GOP Sen. Russ Fulcher.
Shortly before noon Monday, Otter filed the official paperwork with Ysursa’s office for re-election. Asked afterward whether he was asking members of other parties to consider re-registering to vote GOP, he said, “Well, no, I’m not.”
Of Idaho’s 742,000 registered voters, 440,000 remain unaffiliated after Idaho’s first closed primary was held in 2012 after the Idaho Republican Party won a federal lawsuit over the objections of Otter and Ysursa. Unaffiliated voters who wish to re-nominate Otter for a third term or back Fulcher will have to declare themselves Republicans and may do so on Election Day.
About 241,000 voters, or 33 percent, are already registered GOP. About 57,000 registered Democrats, 3,400 Libertarians and 1,700 members of the Constitution Party must file an Idaho Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form with their county clerk by March 14 if they wish to switch parties and vote GOP.
Ysursa is not running for re-election to a fourth term. The race to replace Ysrusa has drawn four candidates to the GOP primary, as has the contest to nominate a replacement for retiring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The 2nd Congressional District battle between eight-term Rep. Mike Simpson and challenger Bryan Smith is receiving national attention as a measure of tea party strength. And GOP Chairman Barry Peterson has predicted the busiest primary season in more than 60 years.
Ysursa’s news release follows:
Important deadlines pertaining to the May 20th, 2014 Primary Election
From Ben Ysursa, Secretary of State
Important deadlines pertaining to the May 20th, 2014 Primary Election are fast approaching. A 2011 law provided a political party with the option to conduct an “open” or “closed” primary election and in so doing established party registration for Idaho voters. Those voters who are not registered with any political party are designated as “Unaffiliated” voters.
The following procedures apply for the 2014 Primary election:
March 14, 2014 is the last day for an elector currently registered with a party to change his or her party affiliation or become “unaffiliated.” This can be done by filing the Idaho Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form with the County Clerk for the Primary.
Registered Republicans may vote the Republican Primary Election Ballot along with the Non-Partisan Ballot.
Registered Democrats, Republicans, Constitution Party, or Libertarian Party members, and voters not affiliated with any party (unaffiliated voters) may vote the Democratic Ballot along with the Non-Partisan Ballot.
Unaffiliated Voters (voters currently registered with no party preference) may select a political party affiliation up to and including Election Day. Before Election Day the unaffiliated elector may file a signed form with the county clerk. On Election Day an unaffiliated elector may affiliate with a party when signing the poll book.
The absentee ballot request form can also be used for an unaffiliated voter to select a party. The voter will be given the appropriate ballot for the voter’s party affiliation and ballot choice. The party choice will be recorded in the statewide voter registration system with the voting history.