Primary Elections in Idaho -- New Information for
The purpose of primary elections in the State of Idaho is to
allow members of a recognized political party to select that party’s
nominees to go on the general election ballot. Primary elections
often are referred to as “party primaries”.
As a result of a federal court decision in
Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa, the 2011 Idaho Legislature
House Bill 351 implementing a closed primary system.
Persons who are not members of a party may not participate in the
selection of that party’s nominees. However, Idaho law does allow
the political parties the option of opening their primary elections
to "unaffiliated" voters and members of other political parties if
they so choose. The party chairman must notify the Secretary of
State 6 months prior to the primary if the party intends to open
it's primary election to those outside the party.
So in primary elections, unless the party chooses to allow
others outside the party to participate in its primary election,
only registered voters of a political party may vote to select their
party’s nominees. In other words, at primary elections,
registered Republicans may vote only for Republican candidates, and
registered Democrats may vote only for Democratic candidates.
Persons who are registered as “unaffiliated” (meaning not affiliated
with any political party) may not vote for partisan candidates in
primary elections unless the party decides to allow them.
Independent candidates appear on the ballot only at the general
Since Idaho has never required party registration prior to
July 1, 2011, there are approximately 742,000 registered voters who
are not affiliated with any political party. Electors can
designate their party affiliation with the Democratic, Republican,
Constitution or Libertarian Party or select no party affiliation
(Unaffiliated) in any of the following ways:
- Fill out a new voter registration card
- Fill out a Party Affiliation Declaration form
- Declare a party at the polls at the 2012 Primary Election
- Anyone who has not declared a party affiliation by the 2012
Primary Election will be registered as an unaffiliated voter
There are elections on nonpartisan issues scheduled to be held
in conjunction with primaries, such as judicial elections, bond or
levy election or possibly state or local question elections.
All registered voters are entitled to vote on nonpartisan issues
Party registration requirements have no effect on general
election procedures. At general elections, all voters receive
exactly the same ballot and may vote for any candidate whose name
appears on it, without regard to the political affiliation of the
candidate or the voter.
Upon request, the County Clerk will furnish a list of registered voters in
their county, arranged by precinct. The person requesting such list may be
assessed a charge to compensate the county for the cost of reproducing the
list. Any person obtaining a list of registered voters is prohibited by law
from using such list for commercial purposes.