Idaho GOP convention committee approves rule to limit ‘cross-voting’

Idaho Republican Party delegates attending the state convention will decide in the next two days whether to approve a rule barring voters affiliated with other parties from registering as Republicans to vote in the election. party primaries.

Idaho’s GOP closed its primary process beginning in 2012 so that only registered Republicans can vote for the candidate they want to advance in the general election — where Republicans dominate so strongly that a primary victory often guarantees victory. election to a seat.

The proposed rule was drafted by Branden Durst, a former Democratic lawmaker who joined the Republican Party in 2020 and unsuccessfully ran as the Republican candidate for superintendent of public instruction in the May primary. The rule was passed by the GOP convention committee on Thursday and will require a majority of affirmative votes from party delegates to officially pass.

Durst told the Idaho Capital Sun he was unable to speak about the rule until Saturday.

Branden Durst, a former Democratic lawmaker who joined the Republican Party in 2020 and unsuccessfully ran as the Republican candidate for superintendent of public instruction in the May primary, proposed the rule. (Courtesy of Idaho Reports)

The rule states that county and legislative district central committees can determine the political affiliation of people who file or intend to file as candidates for the Republican Party. It describes how a voter can be disqualified from registering with the Idaho Republican Party, such as those who:

  • Affiliated less than 12 months before the next primary election held in an even year
  • Disaffiliated with the Republican Party at any time in the past 39 months
  • Financially supported more than one candidate from a different political party for one term less than 25 months before the primary
  • Affiliated with any other political party less than 25 months before the primary
  • Voted in a primary or caucus for any other political party less than 25 months before the primary

The proposed rule did not specify how the party would control the affiliation history or campaign contributions of its voters. He did not specify who would be responsible for this task.

Tyler Kelly, executive director of the Idaho Republican Party, said there’s usually a “hot topic” at the convention each year, and he’s not surprised the rule kicked it out of the committee. But he hopes that the majority of delegates will not adopt it.

“I hope the party is wrong on the side of inclusion,” Kelly said. “I think it gets difficult when the party starts figuring out who can and can’t sign up. It is my belief, and that of (GOP Chairman Tom Luna) as well, that we should err on the side of inclusion at all times.

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Durst lost to former Idaho State Board of Education chairwoman Debbie Critchfield and said the day after the primary that the Republican Party “needs to solve its Democratic primary crossover problem.” He and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who lost her gubernatorial bid to Gov. Brad Little in the primary, both claimed tens of thousands of Democrats crossed paths to vote in the primary. Assistant Secretary of State Chad Houck said in may that these figures were not reflected in the electoral lists.

The Idaho Democratic Party has an open primary, allowing any registered voter to participate. Democratic Party spokesman Avery Roberts said the proposed rule is particularly egregious coming from Durst.

“From his extremist views on reproductive rights to his efforts to fund public education, it’s clear that Durst is not a Democrat. What is unclear is why he thinks he should be given special treatment,” Roberts said in a statement. “He certainly didn’t wait 25 months after losing a Democratic primary in Washington state to rise through the ranks of the Republican Party in Idaho.”

Durst ran a losing legislative campaign as a Democrat in Washington in 2016. Two years later, he ran a losing campaign for administrator of the Boise school district, a nonpartisan seat.

The Idaho GOP convention will continue until Saturday night, when party delegates will vote on rules, resolutions and proposed changes to the party platform. Delegates will also elect party leaders, including the president, on Saturday.

IDGOP 2022 Convention Rules Proposals