Elections

This month will decide if Idahoans vote on Medicaid, gambling machines, abortions

Instant horse racing: What the machine looks like

Demonstration in 2015 of a historical racing betting machine at Les Bois Park's Turf Club in Garden City, Idaho.
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Demonstration in 2015 of a historical racing betting machine at Les Bois Park's Turf Club in Garden City, Idaho.

Three groups are in the final days of collecting signatures to get their respective initiatives on the statewide ballot in November.

The bar to get an initiative on an Idaho ballot requires signatures equaling 6 percent of the state’s registered voters as of the last general election. The signatures must come from at least 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

To meet this requirement for 2018, petitioners for each initiative have until April 30 to gather 56,192 signatures.

Here are the three initiatives:

Medicaid expansion: The Medicaid for Idaho initiative calls for expanding Medicaid eligibility in Idaho. The group organizing the effort, Reclaim Idaho, says it has about 42,000 verified signatures and is on pace to collect enough signatures to get on the November ballot.

Historical horse racing: This proposal would legalize gambling terminals that let you bet on the results of past horse races at locations where live or simulcast horse racing occurs, including Ada County’s Les Bois Park. In 2013, the Idaho Legislature legalized the gambling machines only to repeal them in 2015. Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of the repeal failed on a technicality. Since then, the horse racing community has been trying to find a way to legalize historical horse racing in Idaho, saying its revenue is needed to make live racing viable. The group behind the initiative, Save Idaho Horse Racing, would not comment on how many signatures it has gathered to date.

Abortion: Under the proposal, all abortions would be banned and anyone who performs or gets an abortion could be charged with first-degree murder. The group behind the effort, Abolish Abortion Idaho, has not yet responded to a phone call and email from the Statesman on the status of its effort.

Another proposed initiative, announced in 2016, to legalize medical marijuana is no longer active, according to Tesla Gillespie, who initially filed that proposal with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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