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Open Primaries Initiative supporters to deliver verified signatures to Secretary of State

Medicaid, medicaid expansion, ilana rubel
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
In a photo from 2018, supporters of the citizen initiative to expand medicaid coverage in Idaho prepare to deliver boxes filled with signatures to the Secretary of State's office. Voters ultimately approved the initiative, and many of the same organizers are working to get the open primaries initiative to the ballot this coming November.

Idahoans for Open Primaries will deliver its petition with more verified signatures than needed to the Idaho Secretary of State Tuesday, paving the way to the November ballot for the citizen-led initiative.

Organizers want voters to approve a return to open primary elections in the state, and implementation of ranked-choice voting, where voters identify preferred candidates in order to be counted.

The signature-gathering effort ended in May, and organizers submitted petition sheets to county clerks for a 60-day verification period.

“Signatures were collected in all 44 of Idaho's counties,” Open Primaries spokesman Luke Mayville said. “About 77% of them were verified as valid.”

Mayville said 97,535 signatures were collected by more than 2,000 volunteers. Counties verified 74,910 signatures, about 10,000 more than the minimum 63,000 signatures required to reach the ballot. Mayville said they also qualified with at least 6% of registered voter signatures in 20 different voting districts, two more districts than the minimum.

The group will rally on the capitol steps at noon Tuesday before delivering the petitions to Secretary of State Phil McGrane for a final verification, which should take about a week.

McGrane's spokeswoman Chelsea Carattini said they expect petitions will arrive in boxes sorted by county. "Each box should contain a cover page indicating the number of signatures the counties have verified. We’ll go box by box and enter the cover sheet data in a spreadsheet we have prepared and use that information to confirm that the 6% threshold has been met in the requisite 18 legislative districts," she wrote in an email to Boise State Public Radio.

Open Primaries supporters will be scheduling volunteer events and town halls to continue to get their message out in the coming weeks. But they expect to be busy in court, too.

“We are expecting a challenge from the Attorney General,” Mayville said. “We are confident that that challenge will fail. Very similar proposals have been upheld by other courts around the country,” he said.

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador has promised to sue if the petitioners qualify for the ballot, saying previously the measure violates the requirement that initiatives be limited to a single issue.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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