Idaho Senate Passes Bill To Move Presidential Primary From May To March

Mar 3, 2015

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Republicans want a bigger say in the 2016 presidential election cycle. A bill that would move Idaho’s presidential primaries up two months, into March, passed the state Senate Tuesday.

Republican State Sen. Jim Rice says 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. None,” Rice says.

But he says 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, mainly to reimburse county elections offices.

Democrat Grant Burgoyne says 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," Burgoyne says. "That doesn’t serve a public purpose in my estimation.”

In 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.

The bill now goes to the Idaho House.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network