March 14 is deadline to change party affiliation ahead of GOP primary

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comMarch 3, 2014 

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa on Monday reminded voters who may wish to change their Democratic, Libertarian or Constitution party affiliation to vote in the May 20 Republican primary that they have just two working weeks to do so.

The March 14 deadline coincides with the end of the two-week filing period for candidates for county, legislative, statewide and federal office. Ysursa's news release came Monday morning, as the candidate filing period opened.

Idaho's chief elections officer and a co-chair of Gov. Butch Otter's re-election campaign, Ysursa appeared to echo what Otter told Farmers Insurance agents Thursday — that his campaign will supply supporters with timelines to prepare for the primary.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of people that just don’t want to sign that piece of paper and pledge that they are a Republican, but anyway, when we get the calendar put together there’s certain things you’re going to have to do at certain times," Otter told agents who asked how to support him in his campaign against GOP Sen. Russ Fulcher.

Of Idaho's 742,000 registered voters, 440,000 remain unaffiliated after Idaho's first closed primary was held in 2012 after the Idaho Republican Party won a federal lawsuit over the objections of Otter and Ysursa. Unaffiliated voters who wish to re-nominate Otter for a third term or back Fulcher will have to declare themselves Republicans and may do so on Election Day.

About 241,000 voters, or 33 percent, are already registered GOP. About 57,000 registered Democrats, 3,400 Libertarians and 1,700 members of the Constitution Party must file an Idaho Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form with their county clerk by March 14 if they wish to switch parties and vote GOP.

Ysursa is not running for re-election to a fourth term. The race to replace Ysrusa has drawn four candidates to the GOP primary, as has the contest to nominate a replacement for retiring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The 2nd Congressional District battle between eight-term Rep. Mike Simpson and challenger Bryan Smith is receiving national attention as a measure of tea party strength. And GOP Chairman Barry Peterson has predicted the busiest primary season in more than 60 years.

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