By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idahoans for Open Primaries Coalition announced Monday its plans to sue Attorney General Raúl Labrador after Labrador announced his intent to sue them if their ballot initiative qualifies for the ballot.
“Although we have furnished a ballot title as required by Idaho statute, for the reasons set for in my Certificate of Review, we maintain that this Petition violates the constitutional and statutory single-subject rule and is therefore ineligible for placement on the ballot,” Labrador wrote in a June 30th letter to Secretary of State Phil McGrane. “We will litigate that objection if and when it becomes ripe.”
Should it make it on the ballot and pass, the initiative in question would end closed primary elections. Currently, only registered Republicans may vote in a Republican primary. The initiative would also alter Idaho general elections by creating a new instant runoff voting system, commonly called ranked choice voting.
The Idaho Republican Party has vocally opposed ranked choice voting.
In a news release Monday, organizers disputed that the initiative addresses multiple topics.
“The Open Primaries Initiative reforms both primary elections and general elections, but clearly the initiative deals with a single subject: elections,” the press release said.
On Friday, Labrador issued ballot titles for the initiative. The short ballot titles from Labrador’s office would read as follows:
“Measure to (1) replace voter selection of party nominees with nonparty blanket primary; (2) require ranked-choice voting for general elections.”
Former Attorney General Jim Jones, who supports the Open Primaries Initiative, described the ballot titles as “misleading and treacherous” and as “another example of AG Labrador’s vendetta against the Open Primaries Initiative” in the press release.
The lawsuit from the coalition is expected to be filed in coming days, asking the Idaho Supreme Court to reject Labrador’s ballot titles.
“As a rule we don’t comment on pending litigation,” said Beth Cahill, Labrador’s communications director, in written statement. “Any statement we have to make was provided in our cover letter provided to the Secretary of State’s Office with our letter of transmittal: AG Labrador has furnished a ballot measure title with a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure and without prejudice or partisanship, consistent with his requirements under Idaho law. If it is required, we will be happy to defend the AG’s fulfillment of his statutory duties in litigation.”
The initiative still has not qualified for the ballot. In order to qualify for the November 2024 ballot, the campaign must collect valid signatures from 6% of all Idaho voters who were registered at the last general election, which is 62,895 signatures. The campaign must also collect signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts by May 1, 2024.