Independent Voters Win Right to Intervene and Defend Idaho’s Open Primary System in Federal Court Litigation
Independent voters and two groups representing independents were today granted intervener status in litigation concerning open primaries.
U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled from the bench, granting independents the right to be a full party in the litigation. The decision marks the first time independent voters have been accorded this status in an open primary case.
“The Republican Party is attempting to restructure the electoral system of Idaho out of narrow partisan interests,” stated lead counsel for the independents Harry Kresky. “As a result of today’s decision, independents will be involved in all phases of this litigation—the outcome of which will directly impact on every independent in the state.”
The Idaho Republican Party brought the suit in an effort to end the system of open primaries and force the state to institute partisan voter registration. They opposed the intervention by independents. Eleven independent voters from Twin Falls, Salmon, Filer and Jerome, along with two groups which represent independent voters --The American Independent Movement of Idaho (AIM) and the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, Inc. (CUIP) -- filed the Motion to Intervene into Idaho Republican Party v. Ysursa on July 1, 2008.
Mitch Campbell, founder of the American Independent Movement of Idaho, was the initiator of the Motion to Intervene. Campbell and other independent voters in Idaho and across the country have championed the cause of open primaries, particularly as the number of voters who consider themselves independents has grown. Today nearly 40% of American’s describe themselves as political independents.
Jacqueline Salit, president of CUIP which has active networks of independent voters in more than 35 states, stated in her declaration to the court, “Independents have a direct and immediate interest in the outcome of this litigation. CUIP believes that this litigation is of national significance and if plaintiffs prevail it will encourage partisans in other states with some form of open primary to seek to close them.”
“We’re looking for free choice here. We believe that every person should have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice in every election,” said Campbell. “Closing the primaries is a move by a hard-line faction within the party to control the candidate selection process at the expense of democracy.”
Today’s decision comes one day after neighboring Washington State conducted its “top two” primary. Oregon state voters have placed an initiative on the ballot to create a system similar to Washington’s.
Legal papers available upon request.
For more information:
CUIP (http://www.independentvoting.org/) is a national strategy center and organizing hub for independent voters with headquarters in New York City.
CUIP, 225 Broadway, Ste. 2010, New York, NY 10007
Sarah Lyons: 917-658-9885
AIM, PO Box 1785, Twin Falls, ID 83303
Mitch Campbell: 208-731-2345