On May 20, Idahoans were reminded that a small sliver of the population makes decisions for everybody. Turnout for the primary election was around 25 percent, which is barely an improvement over the record-low turnout of the 2012 primary.
There is a connection. Republicans closed their election to all but registered party members. That’s driving down participation. Idahoans — conservative and yet independent enough that they don’t want to register with any party — are abandoning the political process.
That’s fine with politicians who see a bright future in elections limited to folks who approach politics with a religious fervor and would crawl naked over a field of broken glass to vote. For everyone else, however, including opponents of the closed primary, such as Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and retiring Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, declining voter turnout is a problem.
One hopes traditional Republicans will attempt to fix this problem by convincing the rank and file to open the primary at the upcoming GOP State Convention.
If they can’t, one hopes a civic-minded lawmaker will draft a top-two primary election bill and present it to the 2014 Legislature.
Under that system, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to the General Election. That might kill the Democratic Party. It would make life hard on tea partiers, who would be forced to present their vision of government to a wider audience. Certainly it would make sure more Idahoans have a say in what kind of government they receive.
Isn’t that a goal worth pursuing?