Let’s put a spotlight on Idaho for the right reasons

Support the Open Primaries Initiative to bolster voter — not party — power

By Ed Morse
Reader Contributor

Idaho once again made national headlines for the wrong reasons. Collegiate athletes from the University of Utah women’s basketball team experienced hate and racial slurs from individuals in North Idaho — in our community.  

The events are a stark reminder of the divisions that still plague our area. These divisions and the extremism that drives it must change. The only way for us to start making that change is to ensure extremists know they aren’t more powerful than the often-silent majority. And that means we need to vote. 

When we exclude people and limit voter participation, we create an environment where elitism and party power — not voter power — are unlimited. We see this with unnecessary voter registration requirements months in advance, an exclusionary caucus and with the Republican Party restricting voter access. 

These actions provide more party power and an environment for extremism. Recent actions by the Republican Party to make voter initiatives more difficult further insulates the party from the power and choice of the voters. 

In our recent caucus, only 6.8% of Idaho’s Republicans attended to cast their vote for president. That leaves more than 93% of registered Republicans without a voice, without a vote and completely silent on their opinions. This is an intentional result of party efforts to limit voter participation. It’s anti-democratic and not the answer to creating a strong party, or a voter-driven political agenda. 

For these reasons, I am a strong supporter of the Idahoans for Open Primaries Initiative. It’s not just about partisan politics — it’s about ensuring that every citizen has an opportunity to vote, everyone has a voice and everyone has a seat at the political table. When we open our primaries, we invite more participation and more diverse perspectives. That has shown to foster more civility, better and more qualified candidates, and greater voter engagement. 

Simply put, open primaries will transfer more power to the voters and away from professional politicians who now set the political agendas. More power to the voters! 

I’m proud to say that most of the legislative districts in Idaho’s panhandle have collected enough signatures to qualify the Open Primaries Initiative to the ballot. It’s a testament to the strength of our community and the power voters have to make their voices heard and their votes matter. 

Volunteers have worked tirelessly, engaging in meaningful conversations, and sparking political discussions with neighbors and strangers alike. Their dedication is inspiring, and it reaffirms my belief in the power of grassroots political activism — something feared by party bosses.

Our work is far from over. It is extremely challenging to place a citizen-led initiative on an Idaho ballot. The volunteer group faces deadlines, signature demands, validation checks from the state, as well as opposition trying to keep the primaries closed. With just a few weeks left to push the initiative onto the ballot, every signature counts. 

I urge my fellow Idahoans to join me in supporting open primaries. Let’s show the world that North Idaho can be a place that creates thoughtful policies, rejects hatred and engages in political discourse.

I believe open primaries will change the political landscape. It will bolster the Idaho we know and love — not the hateful actions reported in national media. Please join me in supporting this voter-led movement. 

Ed Morse is a business owner and real estate consultant in Hayden, Idaho. He served as a Republican Idaho state representative from 2012-2014 and is actively involved with North Idaho Republicans.

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