I read the humor in Rep. Brandon Dusrt's opinion in the Statesman justifying the Idaho Democratic Party's Presidential Caucus reasoning (instead of allowing all state Democrats to select their preference in a regular Primary). Rep. Durst correctly points out "in an IDP presidential caucus you are required to publicly support one candidate. In a primary, your decision is private." So why is this IDP Caucus better than a Primary where everyone has the ability to vote privately for their choice of the candidate to represent them in the General Election? A Caucus is normally done to ensure better control over WHO will be chosen (through peer pressure), not that it is done fairly or accommodates the desires of all of that party's voters.
He states "The IDP presidential caucus is privately funded", so who ensures that there is a fair and unbiased selection of Presidential candidates in a "privately funded" caucus? The State Primary Election process has rules that must be followed that ensure a fair and just process is provided for the public to ensure their votes count.
The the Republican Party voting to close their Primary Election process is exactly the same thing the Democrats have done in their national Presidential Primary process, just a few years later than the Democrats did. The Republicans also considered a "Privately Funded Caucus" to select their candidates, but that was voted down in consideration of an accepted fair and unbiased State Election process that the citizens of Idaho already pay for and trust.
Holding a type of restricted, "members only" Primary to select a party's candidates for the General Election in the fall has been found to be a right that is afforded to that party and it's members (regardless of who's party) by the Supreme Court. There have been numerous changes in the ways the Parties have selected their candidates in Idaho's history and changes will continue by all of the Parties as time goes on.
The REAL issue here is our State's laws regarding Primary Elections are not flexible enough to accommodate these past or future changes. Those laws should be able to accommodate a selection process that will ensure a fair and just election and appropriate voter safeguards ensuring that their vote counts when they exercise that right.
Ensuring that "every vote counts" should be something that every Party takes a serious interest in, not just the Republicans, as shown by 71 party members recent actions to fix the system now through the judicial process. The Party members (not the Party) have filed suit in Federal court to force the state to change it's laws allowing the closed process the Party has selected.
This issue seems to have been overlooked by many, like Rep. Durst, of those that focus on "this method" or "that method" of holding the Primary selection of that Party's candidates for the General Elections (where all are allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice in secret regardless of party affiliation).
Rep. Labrador wrote an excellent piece in the Statesman regarding this issue and why changes in State laws are needed. Many of us worked hard last session trying to educate those of both Parties in the needed changes to close the loopholes in our state laws. There are activities like "Strategic Crossover Voting" that occurs discounting legitimate public votes.
Both Parties now recognize these loopholes with some of the Republicans finally coming on to request changes in the Idaho State Primary Election process. The Democrats recognized the issue many years ago and instead of fixing the issue, decided just not to use the state process for their Presidential selection process... thus leaving a very large number of their Party voters without an opportunity to vote in that selection process.
Now instead of the Legislature changing the laws to accommodate the Party selection process, we will likely have a Federal Judge forcing that change and the Legislature focused again on those needed changes in the 2008 session. The last changes were done in 1972 and many Supreme Court findings have happened since those changes... it's time to update our process like over 30 other States have done.
All Parties should welcome this change to ensure that fairness and legitimacy are brought back into our Primary Election system encouraging more voter participation.