We often hear of people taking advantage of tax breaks that some would consider unfair, but they cannot be blamed if the law specifically provides the relief. Or, say a government program offers a monetary grant or forgivable loan for pandemic relief. It is not dishonest to take the money if you qualify for funding under the law.
The same concept applies to the exercise of a person’s right to vote in an election. If the law specifically allows you to vote in an election, there’s no shame in following the law. Still, some hardline Republicans in Idaho say independent voters are barred from voting in a Republican primary election. The fact is that they have this right – it is specifically provided by law.
Extremists have attempted this past legislative session to make it harder for independents to vote in the GOP primary by stripping them of the right to register for the Republican primary between March 11 and May 17. That effort failed, and rightly so. In a one-party state like Idaho, the primary is where office holders are typically selected. If an independent were prevented from voting for the Republican candidate of their choice, they would have no voice in the electoral process.
And it’s not like the Republican Party is paying all the expenses to run its primary elections. Every taxpayer in the state pays for the GOP primary, and everyone should have the right to vote in it.
I was recently invited to an interview on a radio show to discuss why independent voters like me should be able to vote in the GOP primary on May 17. I grew up in the Republican Party but decided to step down when it was clear that the Bush administration was determined to launch the disastrous war in Iraq. I had volunteered to fight in Vietnam and knew that a war in Iraq was against America’s vital interests.
Investigators asked why I thought I had the right to vote in a GOP election when I was not a current member of the party. My response was that I had volunteered to fight for my country and had been granted the right to vote in any party primary permitted by law. All other Idahoans should have the same right. Otherwise, about half of Idaho voters would be denied a vote in the electoral process.
Some of the most belligerent voices against independents voting in the GOP primary are the top brass on the Kootenai and Bonneville county GOP central committees — Brent Regan, Doyle Beck and Bryan Smith. They also happen to be board members of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. They view the GOP as their private playground. However, all three understand the concept of taking advantage of the benefits provided by the law. Even though they are staunchly opposed to government money being handed out, calling it socialism, they were happy enough to ask for and spend heaps of money. Smith got $205,200 in pandemic relief funds for his medical debt collection operations, Beck took in $168,200 and Regan pocketed $74,800. In total, the IFF big cats seized more than $2 million in “socialist” largesse.
If the law permitted these payments, I don’t suppose we could blame these people for taking advantage of taxpayers’ money. On the other hand, it’s rather hypocritical of them to get upset about independents registering for the Republican primary in order to have a meaningful voice in our government, since the law says that’s their right. to do.
This is an extremely important election. There are currently two branches of the Republican Party in Idaho – the traditional, pragmatic branch and the new branch made up of culture warriors and other extremists. Every Idahoan eligible to vote must participate in this election to choose the future course of the GOP in Idaho. Voters can register until they enter the polling station on May 17.