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Idaho Senate Votes To Change Initiative Signature Requirement

Reclaim Idaho

The Idaho Senate today [Monday] approved a bill that changes the requirements for initiative signatures to quality a measure for the ballot.
The bill requires initiative sponsors to collect signatures from at least 6% of registered voters in each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. The current law requires 6% in 18 districts.
Supporters say the goal is to ensure initiatives have broad support from both rural and urban people before they’re put in front of voters.
“I would submit to you that, as of today, your urban voters have an unfair advantage as to questions that will be placed on the ballot. I think it’s better policy to say let’s be inclusive. Let’s make sure that every corner of this state gets an opportunity to weigh in on what questions go on the ballot," said Sen. Kelly Arthur Anthon [R-Burley].
Anthon and others pointed to California, Oregon and Washington as examples of what happens when more liberal initiative laws are in place. They say voters are often confused by the sheer numbers of measures on the ballot.
Sen. Melissa Wintrow [D-Boise] says it’s not an applicable comparison.
"What problem are we trying to solve? We don’t have a runaway ballot. We don’t have all these initiatives so it almost feels like we’re trying to pre-empt and that feels paternalistic to me and that is a role I do not want to take with my constituents, nor anyone else in this state," she said.
The bill passed 26 to nine. Two Republicans, including Jim Woodward from Sandpoint and Dan Johnson from Lewiston, voted no.
Opponents disagree with Anthon’s conclusion that rural voters are at a disadvantage. They say rural legislators dominate the leadership of Idaho politics. And they say the 35-district requirement would allow people in only one district to torpedo a prospective initiative.
The bill now goes to the state House.