Idaho has changed its election laws after a Texas prison inmate made Idaho’s presidential ballot in 2008, and a Ralph Nader supporter from Arizona won a discrimination lawsuit over the nominating process.
The fixes were rolled into an innocuous election administration bill that passed near-unanimously this year, but Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says it could all change again soon. Now that both parties are going to hold caucuses for their presidential picks, Idaho likely will do away with its presidential primary altogether. “There’s no reason to have it,” Ysursa said Tuesday.
He joined with other members of Idaho’s Constitutional Defense Council in a unanimous vote to pay more than $54,000 for attorney fees to an Arizona man who successfully challenged Idaho’s presidential election laws, including a requirement that anyone gathering signatures on a nominating petition be an Idaho resident. A federal court ruled that provision unconstitutional.
“There was corrective legislation passed this session,” Ysursa said.
That legislation, HB 275, made a series of administrative changes to Idaho’s election laws, many related to its complex new election-date consolidation law.
Little-noticed among its provisions was one that requires presidential candidates to collect signatures in the state to make the ballot, in addition to paying a $1,000 fee. That used to be required in Idaho, but a previous law change let candidates either pay the fee or collect the signatures – which enabled Keith Russell Judd, who was serving time at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in 2008, to qualify for Idaho’s presidential primary ballot simply by sending in a notarized form and paying the fee.
Judd had tried to get on the ballot for president in numerous states, and he qualified as a write-in candidate in several, but only in Idaho did his name make the ballot for the Democratic primary, right along with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Judd, who was convicted in 1999 of making threats on the University of New Mexico campus, received 734 votes, or 1.7 percent; Obama won handily, with 56 percent.