Idaho Democrats Cry Foul About Billboard Campaign For Primaries

Feb 18, 2016

Idaho Democrats say billboards advertising the date of the state's Republican and Constitutional Party presidential primaries are misleading. The billboards specify in red letters "Presidential Primary March 8." But that date only applies to registered Republicans, since Democrats still plan to caucus for presidential candidates on March 22.

“Are Democrats going to feel like they’ve got to show up to this primary and they can’t vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, if they vote for somebody else then they can’t participate in the caucuses," says Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Bert Marley. "It’s a confusing situation that I think the Secretary of State could have done a much better job of clarifying.”

Marley says his staff has received phone calls from people confused about when they should vote. The chairman wrote a letter to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, but as of Wednesday he had not heard from Denney. In the note, Marley asks the state to clarify who can vote on March 8, or add language that specifies the date of the Democratic caucus.

Last year, the Idaho Legislature decided to move the presidential primary up from May. The goal of Republican leaders was to make Idaho more relevant in the presidential election. But Idaho Democrats chose to hold their caucus two weeks later. 

“There’s certainly nothing wrong with advertising there’s going to be a primary election," says Marley. "Our concern is that it’s confusing. There’s a Democratic caucus and a Republican primary that are two different processes.”

When reached Thursday, Secretary of State Lawrence Denney said it's not the responsibility his office to advertise the Democratic caucus.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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