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Idaho Senate Passes Bill To Make Presidential Primary Earlier In Campaign Cycle

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A bill that would move Idaho’s presidential primaries up two months, into March, passed the state Senate Tuesday.

Republican State Sen. Jim Rice said the whole point of elections is to let the voice of citizens be heard.

“And there is no citizen who is not impacted by the president of the United States,” Rice said. “None.”

But he said by the time Idaho’s primary election rolls around -- no one is listening anymore. Under the bill, Idaho would move its presidential primary from May, to the second Tuesday in March.

But Idaho Democrats and some Republicans balked at the price tag: up to $2 million dollars -- mainly to reimburse county elections offices.

Democrat Grant Burgoyne said that’s too much, especially now that Idaho’s Republican primary is closed to the state’s many independents.

“They’re going to be asked to pay for primaries that they can’t vote in,” he said. “That doesn’t serve a public purpose in my estimation.”

The bill now goes to the Idaho House.

Washington lawmakers are considering a similar measure. In Washington and Idaho, the political parties have held presidential caucuses far ahead of the state primary. But critics of the system say caucuses exclude people in the military and elderly voters who may not be able to show up on a particular date and time.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Jessica Robinson
Jessica Robinson reported for four years from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho as the network's Inland Northwest Correspondent. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covered the economic, demographic and environmental trends that have shaped places east of the Cascades. Jessica left the Northwest News Network in 2015 for a move to Norway.