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Local presidential caucus set for March 2

by EMILY BONSANTCAROLINE LOBSINGER
Hagadone News Network | February 17, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Idaho Republicans will hold a presidential caucus March 2, rather than a regular presidential primary, due to a faux pas during the 2023 legislative session.

The caucus will be a firehouse style, Bonner County Republican Central Committee Chairman Scott Herndon said.

"The firehouse style of caucus means that after the pledge and introduction to the candidates, they will be able to sign in with their government-issued ID card, get their ballot, cast their vote and drop it in the ballot box and be on their way, Herndon said.

However, if voters want to stay and watch the action, Herndon said that is great as well.

"If anyone wants to stay at the caucus until the vote closes and the ballots are counted, they are welcome to do so," he added.

Last year, legislation was passed that removed the May primary election with the intent of having it moved to March. However, the language to move the primary was not added to the bill, removing the presidential primary election. 

The Legislature had the opportunity to reinstate the presidential primary through HB 1186; however, the bill died in committee due to a lack of motion. 

However, Idaho still needed to find a way to send elect delegates for the presidential primary, so political parties will be holding caucuses. The Idaho Republican Presidential Primary Caucus is set for Saturday, March 2. This is the only way to vote for the Republican candidate for the presidential race. 

Only the presidential primary has been removed, officials said. The state and county race primary election is still set for May 21.

Herndon said volunteers are still needed at each of the 12 caucus locations in Bonner County. Those interested are asked to call him at 208-610-2680.

"Republicans are welcome to call me to ask how they can help. We do need volunteers at each of the 12 caucus locations," he said. "I think we have close to enough, but I’d still be happy to talk to anyone who is available."

In Bonner County, the caucus begins at 11 a.m. Voter check-in will remain open for at least 90 minutes after the caucus begins, Herndon said.

"Anyone who is in line by then will have the opportunity to vote, but the idea here is for everyone to arrive and vote or be in line within a relatively short time period, versus a government-run Election Day," he added.

The following are the locations of the various precincts. 

• Farmin Stidwell Elementary — 1626 Spruce St., Sandpoint; Airport, Baldy, Beach, Humbird, Washington precincts. Contact: Matthew Macdonald, humbirdgop@proton.me.

• Sagle Elementary — 550 Sagle Road, Sagle; Algoma, Careywood, Gamlin Lake, Sagle, Southside, Westmond precincts. Contact: Cornel Rasor, csrasor@gmail.com.

• Priest River Jr. High auditorium — 5709 U.S. 2, Priest River; Blue Lake, Oldtown, East Priest River, West Priest River precincts. Contact: Kristen Dodd, kdoddpr1n@protonmail.com.

• Clark Fork High School — 502 N. Main St., Clark Fork; Hope and Clark Fork precincts. Contact: Dimitry Borisov, dimitry47b@protonmail.com.

• Northside Elementary School — 7881 Colburn-Culver Road, Sandpoint; Selle, Grouse Creek and Colburn precincts. Contact: Sean Morgan, sellevalleygop@gmail.com

• Nutlicious — 25820 U.S. 2, Dover; Dover precinct. Contact: Dolores Glass, dodie.glass@protonmail.com.

• Edgemere Grange — 3273 Bandy Road, Priest River; Edgemere and Clagstone precincts. Contact: Douglas Paterson, paterson@reagan.com.

• Kootenai Elementary — 301 Sprague St., Kootenai; Kootenai and Oden precincts. Contact: Grace Bauer, graceebauer@gmail.com.

• Laclede Community Center — 24 Moore Loop Road, Laclede; Laclede and Wrenco precincts. Info.: Jane Purdy, 4theloveofidaho@protonmail.com.

• Priest Lake Elementary — 27732 Highway 57, Priest Lake; Lamb Creek precinct. Contact: Michael Fife, mfife3433@icloud.com

• Coolin Civic Center — 5361 Dickensheet Road, Coolin; Priest Lake precinct. Contact: Mike Nielsen, tacmike@gmail.com.

• Blanchard Community Center — 650 Rusho Lane, Blanchard; Spirit Valley precinct. Contact: Asia Williams, asialakey@outlook.com.

Anyone needing help getting to a caucus location, is asked to contact Herndon.

According to Dave Wenk, Boundary County GOP Naples Precinct Committeeman, that deadline means that if a voter has moved between Jan. 1 and March 2, they must cast their vote at the county and precinct they were registered at Dec. 31, 2023. 

Those who turn 18 between Dec. 31 and March 2 must sign an affidavit that they are registered to vote and will be eligible to vote if they provide additional identification.

ID must be provided by all voters. This includes either a driver's license, Idaho ID, passport, concealed carry permit or federal ID. College IDs are no longer valid forms of identification for voting in Idaho. 

Greeters will direct voters to their precinct within the building. From there voters will be checked in the polling book, asked to provide identification, and to sign the poll book. They then will receive a red hand stamp to show they are a registered Republican voter. 

The caucus will be called to order and caucus rules explained before the one-time vote is taken. If a candidate receives 50% of the vote, then that candidate is awarded all of the delegates and alternates for the state, who will then go to the Republican National Convention. 

Each candidate on the ballot or their campaign-specified designee will be allowed five minutes to offer remarks or play a video to the assembly. 

If someone makes a mistake on their ballot, they can receive another one, but the first ballot will be collected and spoiled. 

After the caucus is over, the results are then reported to the Idaho GOP, then shipped to the state party along with the poll books. 

Unlike a typical presidential primary, a caucus is run by a political party with its own rules. 

Since the caucus is hosted by a political party, county governments will not participate in the counting, nor will tax dollars pay for the caucus.  

However, no media or recordings are allowed during the caucus. Media members may vote if they are registered republicans and provide proper identification. 

In addition, no one is to bring poster boards or anything that can obstruct the view of others. 

Candidates who have filed in the Republican presidential race in Idaho will appear on the ballot. 

Candidates still running for the Republican nomination include former President Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador and prior governor of South Carolina.

Two weeks before the caucus, all registered Republican voters will receive a postcard from the Idaho GOP with their polling place listed.

To find your polling location, also known as a voting precinct, visit voteidaho.gov.

The Idaho Democrat Presidential Caucus is May 23.

Information: Scott Herndon, chair@bonnergop.org