The Presidential Primary is just getting started, Idaho’s is in less than a month. Things are different this year than in the past, and you need to know what is happening. Last election both Republicans and Democrats had contested primaries for president and I wrote about candidates on both sides of the aisle, giving my recommendations for each. This year, the Republican Primary is already a sealed deal; with an incumbent president, Trump will be the nominee. So, I have put off talking about candidates because we only have half as many candidates to talk about. Just the Democrat ones.

First off, the primary is different. This year both Democrats and Republicans are having a primary election, neither is having a caucus, which is what Democrats did 4 years ago. This means that on March 10th from 8am to 8pm you will need to go to your voting location and cast a vote for the person you want to have run in the general election. For Republicans, while you will have a couple of choices, Trump is going to win, vote if you want to. For Democrats you are going to have a lot of choices, as of right now, there are 8 major candidates and dozens of others. I suspect that a couple of the major candidates will drop out after Super Tuesday March 3rd, but I don’t know for sure.

A very important point of note. Our Presidential Primary on March 10th is only an election for the candidate you want to represent your party in the Presidential election in November. No other candidate. Idaho is unique in that we have a separate primary for all of our other positions. For Republicans it is more important that you vote in the General Primary on May 19th where we pick the candidates for US Senate, US Congress, Idaho House and Senate, and any other positions that are up for re-election. Vote in both if you can, May 19th though is more important for us.

Another important note, if you are registered with any political party, you are only allowed to vote in that party’s presidential primary. Democrats in the Democratic one, Republicans in the Republican one, and Constitutionalists in the Constitution one. If you happen to be a registered Libertarian (Bear Lake has a few), there is no ballot this year so don’t worry about it. If you are not registered with any political party, you can register the day of the primary and vote in the party that you register with. If you don’t want to register but remain an independent, you can vote in the Democratic or Constitutionalist primary; Republicans have a closed primary so you cannot vote in theirs.

This will be different from the General Primary in May. In those primaries, only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican Primary, but any member of any party can vote in the Democratic or Constitutionalist Primaries as theirs are open. There is currently legislation being considered that would require a person who voted in one political party’s presidential primary to only be allowed to vote in the same political party’s regular primary in May, but that has not passed and is not currently law. So, technically speaking if you are not registered or registered Democrat you could vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary in March and then change your registered party to Republican and vote in the Republican regular Primary in May. Don’t count on this, because Idaho Legislators are working on changing it and you never know what is going to happen in the Capital, but it is a possibility under the current law.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing a short bio about each of the Democratic Presidential candidates for those few who are interested. If you are a Democrat in Bear Lake, please reach out to me and let me know what you think about the candidates and so that I can ask and clarify their points of view in case I misunderstand what they are saying.

Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party, and a member of the Montpelier City Council. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD, the City of Montpelier, or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at and welcomes all comments and critiques.

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