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In Support of Closed Primaries

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

These two letters appeared recently in Idaho newspapers. Each author makes excellent points. The first letter appeared in the June 21 edition of the Times News.

Parties have right to choose their own candidates

After reading several recent letters, I am responding with another viewpoint about closed primary elections in Idaho.

First of all, a primary election is a function of individual political parties to elect their own candidates for the general election. The United States Supreme Court affirmed this in a California case in 2000. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Constitutions, Greens and any others have the right to elect their candidates with similar political views for consideration by all the voters in November elections.

Please consider the following scenario to place this issue into perspective.

Most of us belong to at least one club or group which elects either a board of directors or officers. Should those who have no affiliation with your group be allowed to attend one meeting per year and vote for the chairman of the group? Do you believe it would be appropriate for a police officer or computer technician to attend an education association’s annual convention and be allowed to vote for the group’s executive director?

Independent voters will not be disenfranchised because they always retain the right and privilege to vote for the candidates of any party they choose in general elections in November.

The statement that this issue is being pushed by the right wing of the Idaho Republican Party is not accurate. As a member of the state central committee, I am a moderate Republican and voted in favor of the closed primary. Sixty percent of the committee voted likewise.

Thank you for your consideration.



(Editor’s note: Dale Ewersen is the Region 5 chairman for the Idaho Republican Party.)

The following letter appeared in the Statesman on June 19.

Simply a party primary

In the news story “Republicans OK closed primary” (Idaho Statesman, Sunday, June 3), Keith Ridler of The Associated Press writes that Idaho Republicans voted to close their primary elections to “people not registered with the party.” Would those people be “undocumented” Republicans? Former Republicans? Non-Republicans? It is not a “closed” primary, it is simply a “party” primary. If you are registered in the party, then you get to vote.

For Idaho Democrat Party spokesman Chuck Oxley to view this as a “right wing … control” issue is just silly. Membership has its privileges, and the privileges are neither elitist nor closed-minded. I note that Oregon residents lacking the membership of being Idaho citizens and not residing in the designated Idaho counties were blocked out of voting on the new community college initiative in this Valley. Perhaps Oxley sees that as a right-wing conspiracy also, but it seems like good policy to me.

As a registered Republican I (should) lack the membership necessary to choose his party’s candidates. The fact that the law and practice have allowed otherwise simply brings us to the point that it is time to change. Party politics is not a huge mystery — simply join and participate.

Michael Tomlin, Boise

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