Gem State Roundup

Idaho Gov. Brad Little to act on bill moving Idaho’s presidential primary election back to May

By: - March 23, 2023 6:51 pm
Idaho Capitol Building

Idaho State Capitol building in Boise on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little will have the final say in whether Idaho’s presidential primary election is moved to late May.

On Thursday, the Idaho Senate voted 23-11 to pass House Bill 138. If passed into law, the bill would move Idaho’s presidential primary election back on the calendar from its current date on the second Tuesday in March until the third Tuesday in May.

Sen. Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, sponsored the bill in the Idaho Senate, describing it as a cost-saving measure that could increase voter turnout by consolidating the March primary election with an existing election date in May.

Harris estimated consolidating the March presidential primary election into the May election could save the state $2.7 million every four years. 

The bill is written so that it would take effect July 1. That means it would be in effect for the upcoming 2024 presidential primary elections.

Although the bill passed comfortably, Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon urged senators to oppose the bill. In a written statement, Moon said passing the bill would diminish Idaho’s influence in presidential primary elections. Moving the primary back to May could also make it so that presidential candidates have mathematically clinched their party’s nomination before Idaho voters even vote in a primary.

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“This proposal is being advanced because it will favor the established network of politicians who want to avoid the kind of scrutiny that comes from a primary election where voters are enthusiastic and excited about shaping the future of our state and, potentially, our larger republic,” Moon wrote in a March 2 written statement. 

The Idaho House of Representatives previously voted 61-6 to pass the bill moving Idaho’s primary election back. 

Once the bill reaches his desk, Little may sign it into law, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it. 

A different bill, House Bill 292, a property tax bill, also eliminates the March election for school district bond issues and levies. The Idaho house and Idaho Senate also passed that bill, which is awaiting action by Little as well.


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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.