New GOP rule forces voters to wait longer to switch affiliation to Idaho Republican Party
Leaders of Idaho Young Republicans, Idaho College Republicans and Federation of Republican Woman won’t have vote on state GOP executive committee
The Idaho Republican Party logo hangs outside the door to the Idaho Republican Party primary celebration on May 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
A rule that could make voters who change their political party affiliation wait two years to affiliate with the Republican Party was approved during last weekend’s Idaho GOP summer meeting in Challis after a similar proposal proposed rule failed to advance out of committee.
Meanwhile, another rule that takes away the ability for the leaders of the Idaho Young Republicans, Idaho College Republicans and Federation of Republican Women to vote with the Idaho Republican Party’s state executive committee on party matters passed.
The first rule, Rule 2023-21, would have amended existing Idaho Republican Party rules governing party affiliation and ability to vote in Republican primary elections. Under the proposed rule that failed last weekend, anybody who was affiliated with a different political party than the Idaho Republican Party at any point within the previous 12 months must wait an additional 12 months after Dec. 30 before being able to affiliate with the Idaho Republican Party.
The first proposed rule did not pass out of committee, Idaho Republican Party Executive Director Kiira Turnbow said.
Later during the summer meeting, a different rule, Rule 2023-20, was amended to include the language requiring voters who were affiliated with another political party in the previous 12 months to wait an additional 12 months to affiliate with the Idaho Republican Party. That rule then passed and is posted on the Idaho Republican Party’s website.
The rule states, in part, “If an elector was affiliated with any party in Idaho other than the Idaho Republican Party when seeking to change their affiliation or at any time in the prior twelve (12) months, they must wait twelve (12) months from December 30th of the year they wish to affiliate in order to affiliate with the Idaho Republican Party.”
Jacob Cluff, the vice chair of the Idaho Young Republicans, opposed the rule. Cluff said it would have made it much harder for party organizers to convert young voters who registered with another political party. Cluff said his own experience in college is an example. Cluff said he initially registered as a Libertarian but realized the Republican Party was more aligned with his beliefs and values.
“It is hard for me to try to go out and recruit the young people in my life or around the state when we’re telling them they can’t participate until that waiting period is over,” Cluff said in a telephone interview.
In the days leading up to the Idaho GOP summer meeting in Challis, a group of five Republican legislators and the Idaho GOP’s first vice chair Daniel Silver also expressed public concern with some of the proposed rules up for consideration at the summer meeting, warning they could fracture the party.
The five Republican legislators were Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, and Reps. Kevin Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs; Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello; Jeff Ehlers, R-Meridian; and James Petzke, R-Meridian.
“By placing a 25-month restriction for Republican affiliation, the current rule will effectively eliminate any success made on campuses, churches and in our communities with students and young families,” they wrote in the letter. “We are essentially telling our young voters they are not able to participate in our primaries for potentially up to four years.”
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Idaho Republican Party removes voting powers of several GOP group leaders
The other rule was Rule 2023-7, which removes the Idaho Young Republicans state chair, the president of the Idaho Republican Women’s Federation, the president of the College Young Republicans and the state finance chair as voting members of the state executive committee passed on a vote of 137-79, Turnbow said.
Cluff also opposed the rule taking away voting power from his organization and the two other GOP groups. Cluff said the Idaho Young Republicans valued their voting power as a way to have input in the party’s decisions and indicate whether their members are supportive of an activity or rule.
“There are many flavors of Republicans, and I will continue to fight for that,” Cluff said.
In other action from the summer meeting, the Idaho Republican Party also voted to hold a new presidential caucus on the first Saturday in March beginning in 2024 if the Idaho Legislature does not restore the March presidential primary election it eliminated, the Idaho Capital Sun reported Monday.
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