Reclaim our voting rights

Close to 95% of the people underneath the old shelter at Kate Curley Park had their hands in the air. Luke Mayville, Director of Reclaim Idaho, had just asked, “Who here has given money to support Reclaim initiatives?” Although the question stemmed when a member of the audience asked Luke how he received a paycheck, it reflected the engagement and support far beyond who was receiving a salary.

Cost is something that Idaho voters must start to consider as they make decisions about the people who represent their communities and Idaho. West Bonner school district has spent education tax dollars and time removing a runaway school board. GOP extremists have used the local children’s education system as a pawn in their ideology games. The Idaho GOP has lost trust with their recent actions from their summer meeting and fights with local committees. An example is Blackfoot’s restraining order against Idaho GOP leader Dorothy Moon. Each legislative session’s cost climbs due to the litigation it requires.

Now imagine over a quarter of a million Idaho voters having to fall in line with these decisions, having no voice in our representative republic. In Idaho, where we have a supermajority, people admittedly vote party line, which means that in Idaho, elections are won in the primary race. The 2022 primary saw a wave comparable to 1994, with 32.8% of registered voters casting ballots. The 2022 election results exceed the quarter of a million unaffiliated voters blocked from voting in Republican primaries.

Many of our GOP elected officials have stated they prioritize special interests over the voice of the people. Letting money and a scorecard drive their voting, banking on Idaho’s current primary system to keep them in office. When problems need solving, diversity in approach or thought can help us break through barriers. However, Idaho elected officials are selected based on a minority of less than 35% of registered voters at the primary polls. The result has allowed the Idaho elected minority to spend most of their time on controversies and turn Idahoans against each other.

Ranked-choice voting would enable voters to choose the candidates they see fit for office. It allows voters to identify who is not qualified to represent each community member. The process creates additional freedom, allowing all to vote where it matters most in Idaho.

Let me touch back on the money question. The time and money spent on Reclaim Idaho’s initiative directly contribute to a better democratic system, leading to a ballot and a vote. Each person knows where their money is going. Donations become an investment in freedom for the future of Idaho. This contrasts the current system where unrepresented taxpayers have no voice due to our broken system—resulting in continued poor legislation from existing extremist elected officials. Idahoans should not have to sit in the back seat while insufficient education funding and high property taxes are continually overlooked in favor of the culture war priorities of Idaho’s supermajority.

Dan Barker is a local leadership and management consultant and the vice chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.