Friday, February 15, 2008

Idaho needs presidential primary

The Idaho Democratic and Republican parties should find a way to hold a statewide presidential primary in four years.

The hot race between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, combined with a deep national dissatisfaction about the state of the nation, brought out thousands of unexpected participants in primary elections and caucuses nationwide on Super Tuesday.

In Idaho, hundreds of people who wished to participate and vote in the Democratic caucuses on Super Tuesday were literally left out in the cold because there wasn't enough room for them at the places where caucuses were held.

Given the history of small turnouts at Democratic caucuses in the state, it's no wonder organizers were surprised by the large turnouts.

But the fact remains that not only did people fail to gain entry into the auditoriums and arenas where caucuses were held, they did not get to vote. And they were not the only ones.

People who participate in caucuses devote several hours on a single evening to get the chance to help decide who will be a party's nominee for president. The timing eliminates people who are caring for families or working at those times.

Caucus voting is much looser than in formal statewide elections, which are governed by strict rules to try to ensure that every vote is counted and that every voter has the opportunity to vote.

Holding a presidential primary would cost the state money, but it would be money well spent to reinvigorate an electorate that for too long has been shut out of the nominating process for candidates for the world's most powerful position.

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