IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Republican Party is preparing for its first presidential caucus in over a decade. Set for Saturday, March 2, the statewide Caucus will determine which nominee Idaho’s delegates will support at the Republican National Convention.
“Everybody knows what’s at stake this year,” Idaho GOP chairwoman Dorothy Moon wrote in a news release on Thursday. “We either step up and save our country or we head down the path of a new dark age. … It’s time to get to work!”
The economy, rising crime and global conflicts, “indoctrination” in schools and securing the border with Mexico are all “destroying” our “once great nation,” Moon said.
Why a Caucus instead of a Primary?
During the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill to move the presidential primary from March to May. A technical error in the bill eliminated the March election date without adding a new May date. A follow-up bill to correct the mistake passed the Senate but died without a hearing in the House.
Because the legislature didn’t reinstate the presidential primary election by the Republican Party’s Oct. 1 deadline, the state’s political parties will each hold presidential nominating caucuses instead.
- The Idaho Republican Party will hold its presidential nominating caucuses on March 2.
- The Idaho Democratic Party will hold its presidential nominating caucuses on May 23.
How is a caucus different?
The caucuses are separate from Idaho’s 2024 primary election, and the two events have significant differences.
A caucus is to nominate the political parties’ presidential candidates only. The Idaho 2024 primary election will include legislative races, not presidential candidates.
The respective political parties will run the caucuses, and votes will be counted by the parties, not county or state election officials.
Early or absentee voting is not allowed for the Republican caucus, but the Idaho Democratic Party is pursuing options to allow active-duty military members who cannot attend in person a way to participate.
Voters at each caucus will have to participate as members of that respective party. Republicans have implemented a rule that voters must be registered as a Republican to cast a ballot.
Voters in the Idaho Democratic Party’s presidential caucus can register at caucus sites that day.
Unaffiliated or independent voters will have to either register as a Republican or vote in the Democratic presidential caucus. They aren’t allowed to vote in both.
What to Expect
For the Idaho Republican Party’s presidential caucus, voters will need to be in line by the time it is scheduled to begin.
Voters who turned 18 between January 1 and the date of the presidential caucus must also sign an affidavit declaring they have registered to vote and affiliated with the Republican Party within that period.
“There has been a significant increase in Republican voter registrations in the last month of 2023,” Kiera Turnbow with the Idaho GOP said. “We saw over 2,500 new registered Republicans between November and December 2023.”
Republican candidates are invited to attend and voters are encouraged to bring their families. The entire event will last 90 minutes, but voters aren’t required to be there the whole time.
There will be video presentations from the candidates. Once ballots are cast, voters can leave or stick around for refreshments and mingle.
Delegates for the Republican National Convention will be awarded proportionately, according to the outcome of the statewide votes in the Caucus. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the statewide vote, they will be awarded all the Idaho delegates for the Republican National Convention.
A total of 32 pledged delegates will go to the Republican National Convention, allocated according to voting results.
“It is our hope that Idaho’s early presidential caucus, before Super Tuesday, will bring more candidates to Idaho,” says Turnbow.
Recently, the Bingham County leadership claimed the state GOP leadership had taken over the caucus in that county, a move the Idaho GOP said was meant to create “intentional confusion surrounding the presidential caucus.”
“The State Party has been working with elected precinct committeemen to make sure all Bingham County residents have the opportunity to participate in the presidential caucus,” the Idaho GOP said in a news release. “Rest assured, the Idaho GOP will ensure that your voice will be heard on March 2.”
Despite ongoing litigation between the Bingham County and state leadership, Idaho GOP leadership says everything is “shaping up nicely” for the caucus.
“This week, we are working hard in the state party headquarters preparing the caucus kits with all the supplies that each of the 210 caucus sites will need to run a smooth and successful Caucus,” Turnbow said.
The Idaho GOP Presidential Caucus will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. There are 210 caucus locations in Idaho. Don’t know where yours is? Find it here. More information about the Caucus can be found here.