Idaho's Presidential Primary is just around the corner, and this year there will be rule changes involving party affiliation.

Lynn Ragan,the deputy clerk in Benewah County, said that the Republican party chose to close it's primary to unaffiliated voters and to voters who have registered with another political party.

“Any voter wishing to vote a Republican ballot must be affiliated with the Republican party,” Ms. Ragan said.

In contrast the other parties on the ballot, the Constitutional and Democratic parties, will allow members of their own party as well as unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary elections.

Ms. Ragan said that the deadline to switch party affiliation is on March 13.

“This means that electors will be able to switch their party affiliation at the Presidential Primary if they wish,” Ms. Ragan said. “Voters who are unaffiliated may affiliate with any of the parties on election day.”

In 2011 the Idaho Legislature passed a bill which implemented a closed primary system. This made it to where persons who are not members of a party may not participate in the selection of that party's nominees.

This enabled political parties to close their primary to voters who are not affiliated with their party.

The party chairmen must notify the Secretary of State six months prior to the primary if the party wants to opens it's primary election to those outside of the party.

Those who wish to change their party affiliation must file a signed form with the county clerk.

Those who wish to remain unaffiliated may vote under the parties that will allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primaries.

Another primary will begin in May that will include eligibility to vote under the Libertarian party. Ms. Ragan said that there will be more information about that primary coming in in the next few weeks.

For more information on the March Presidential Primary and how to switch party affiliation, contact the Benewah County Clerks office at 208-245-3212.

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