Idaho's new closed GOP primary so confusing even candidates are mixed up

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is spending $200,000 to buy billboards and ads and take other measures to inform voters about Idaho's first-ever closed Republican primary May 15. Ada County Clerk Chris Rich has hired 100 extra pollworkers to answer questions on Election Day.

Candidates, meanwhile, are scrambling to capture reliable absentee voters who request ballots by mail.

That makes for some confusion as well.

Last week, Republican Sen. Mitch Toryanski of Boise sent one of his district's most prominent Democrats — state party Treasurer Susan Eastlake — a letter thanking her for associating with the GOP.

In fact, Eastlake said, she had requested a Democratic ballot by mail. Toryanski's letter arrived the same day her ballot arrived. Eastlake said her husband, Bill, who also requested a Democratic absentee ballot, got the same "Dear Neighbor" letter from Toryanski.

Wrote Toryanski: "You have requested an absentee ballot to vote in this year's primary election. Thank you for affiliating with the Idaho Republican Party and for helping to choose our Party's nominees. This fall's general election will be one of the most important in our lifetime. Now, more than ever, it is important that we pick the strongest candidates possible who will serve us with competence and character."

Update, 5 p.m., with Toryanski comment.

(I just heard from Sen. Toryanski, who said the mixup was the fault of his mail vendor, who sent the letter to nine non-Republicans.

"My campaign sends a letter to voters who request an absentee ballot for the Republican Primary," Toryaski said. "The mail house reports that one day last week it sorted the Ada County Absentee Ballot Request List on the district but not on the primary ballot selected. As a result, a letter was sent that day to District 18 voters for all primaries.")

Eastlake is a former Ada County Highway District Commissioner and has been campaign treasurer for many Democratic candidates over the years.

"It seems like a strange use of a 45-cent stamp," she said.

Or, perhaps, another signal that May 15 will be a difficult day for generations of Idaho voters accustomed to picking their primary election ballot in the privacy of the voting booth.

As a footnote, Toryanski appears alone on the District 18 GOP primary ballot. In November, he'll face the winner of the Democratic primary, either former Democratic Rep. Branden Durst or Matthew Duncan.

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I feel sorry for those little old ladies at the polls on May 15

They are going to take the brunt of all this confusion.

Does Toryanski have a campaign manager? If so, I'm not sure he's getting his money's worth.

that's actually kind of scary

what if she ends up with a Republican ballot?

Take note

If you donate money to Toryanski, he'll use it to mail Democrats.


kinda like mailing a KKK membership application to Cherie Buckner-Webb.

No, like dating site spam.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Does it seem odd?

Several things about this bother me. How does a candidate know who's requesting ballots, and how is sending a campaign letter to an absentee balloter different than campaigning at a polling place?

Cousin Itt knows!


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

"Casey's coast to coast!"

Now, as I promised you earlier, here's our long distance dedication.

A group of men and women from Boise, Idaho write collectively,

"We get together and serve at the request of everybody here and let me tell you Casey, it's a beautiful thing for about ten or so years until a wicked uncle tears our world apart, and we find it devastating when they pull us apart, man, woman and home.

None of us can stretch words far enough, Casey so in closing we'd like to say "thanks" and request...

HELP! by the Beatles".

Well, here is your song.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

yes, campaigns know who requests absentee ballots

this isn't new. In fact, there's been some controversy over this in past years about whether Republican and Democratic candidates were getting the absentee ballot request list at the same time.

So I wonder whether campaigns are not being informed what party ballot is being requested, or if Sen. Toryanski just didn't pay attention or screwed up in some way.

So Idaho is Mr. Irrelevant Vote?


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?