Idaho Dispatch

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Bill to Eliminate August Election Date Passes in the House

By • February 15, 2021

HB 106 was heard on the House Floor today after previously passing through the House State Affairs Committee.

The sponsor of the bill is Rep. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) who said that Idaho needs to reduce the number of elections that we have in a given year from four to three.

Idaho currently has four election dates which take place in March, May, August, and November. March and August are typically used for bond/levy type elections or possible recalls. The May date is used for the primary election every two years but can also be used for levies, bonds, and recalls.

The bill’s official Statement of Purpose is as follows:

Idaho’s election laws provide for four possible election dates each year – March, May, August and November. This legislation would eliminate the August election date. With four dates, the current election calendar provides no time in which county clerks are not either finishing tasks associated with the last election, preparing for the next election, or both simultaneously. Eliminating one of these four election dates would provide a window of time in the election calendar in which the state can take the voter registration system down
for planned maintenance, county clerks can schedule voter registration list maintenance, while also providing an opportunity for the Secretary of State to provide required training for county clerk election employees.

There are several reasons why this legislation chooses August as the election date to be eliminated. First, it is the only election at which there are no state or federal elections on the ballot. Second, no taxing districts have access to the August ballot, apart from school districts, and those only for tax levy elections. And third, by performing the most thorough voter registration list maintenance at this time, it ensures that Idaho’s voter registration lists will be at their most accurate going into the election at which state, federal, county, and city
officials are elected.

Barbieri, the bill sponsor, said during the closing of the debate,

The question here is voter integrity. And to insist that somehow Idaho’s elections are not broken and need not be fixed does not mean that we should not be concerned about the integrity of the voter rolls, registration rolls, and the appropriate training. The Secretary of State has pointed out that this time in the year is the best time for the county clerks to clear up theose voter rolls. In so doing, will give them an opportunity to train. The issue is whether or not it’s important for voter integrity that we eliminate the August election.

Barbieri said that statewide elections and state questions, like a ballot initiative, for instance, do not take place in the August election.

Rep. Chris Mathias (D-Boise) said on the House Floor that he opposed the bill and said that there are only four possible election dates in any given year. He felt it was not necessary to reduce the tools that schools would have to be able to pass a levy.

Others who spoke in favor of the bill said that it would help schools align their budgets by getting rid of the March election instead.

HB 106 now heads to the Senate State Affairs Committee.

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Tags: August Election, Chris Mathias, HB 106, Secretary of State, Vito Barbieri

2 thoughts on “Bill to Eliminate August Election Date Passes in the House

  1. I think removing the March election would be better, many voting seniors are still snowbirding till April AND schools are out in August…..

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