This message is a long one; so please bear with me. I want to draw your attention to some key legislative proposals working through the 2022 Idaho Legislative session. But, first let’s revisit the incident of election malfeasance during the 2021 Kootenai County General election.
Last week, I wrote that a local voter reported an incident of election interference during the 2021 General Election. A voter in District 19 witnessed a poll worker illegally distributing election related partisan literature at an active voting location. Idaho law prohibits distributing such information within one hundred feet of a polling place.
The witness to the violation told a reporter the poll worker handed out cards denouncing Critical Race Theory (CRT). The literature implied that our public schools teach CRT and use it to indoctrinate students. CRT is a doctoral level legal theory. It explores the origins and persistence of racial inequalities in American Law and Culture. In the 2021 election cycle, the GOP distorted and politized CRT. They used it to divide parents and teachers, denigrate public schools, and undermine support for supplemental tax levies.
When confronted by the voter, the accused poll worker said the material had nothing to do with the election. Then she said, “I’ll do whatever I feel like doing.” Unfortunately, the witness is a retired civics teacher. Consequently, he understood Idaho election law. In other words, he knew that what she did is illegal. In fact, if prosecuted and found guilty, she faces a fine of up to $1000, and even jail time. The case remains open and raises questions about local election integrity. Such as:
- Will City Prosecuting Attorney Barry Mc Hugh pursue the case?
- Although Elections Clerk Jim Brannon condemned poll worker’s misbehavior at the time, he has not been transparent about the actions taken to address this infraction. What is he hiding?
- How does the Kootenai County GOP’s open recruitment of poll workers on its website bear on this case? Ironically, they called on Republicans to monitor polling places for instances of vote tampering.
- Was the accused poll worker, a recruit working on behalf of the KCGOP?
- How does Clerk Brannon protect the polls from partisan packing efforts like those orchestrated by the KCGOP?
- Are poll workers trained to respect the non-partisan nature of poll working?
- Should party affiliation be a factor when hiring and assigning people to polling places?
- If the case is an isolated incident, why is it taking so long to determine if a prosecutable crime occurred?
- What can we infer from the lake of clarity and the continuous delays?
- And finally, why is the KCGOP who is so vocal about voter fraud staying silent on this issue?
Based on their delays and obfuscation, it seems that Brannon and McHugh hope that their stalling tactics will lead voters to forget this ever happened. That is why it is up to us to ensure that Clerk Brannon provides written details on how he safeguards the polls against partisan abuse. In addition, we must maintain pressure on Prosecutor McHugh to promptly explain how he intends to deal with this case. At the very least, he should outline the process and a timeline for when it will be prosecuted.
Kootenai County citizens deserve answers and transparency. For our future elections to be secure, voters must be certain that poll workers remain neutral and committed to serving the public at large.
Contact Jim Brannon
Call 208 446 1030 or submit a message to the Elections Office at kcgov.us.
Contact Barry McHugh
Call 208 446 1800 or submit a message to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at kcgov.us.
And now to the current legislative session.
Tax Legislation | HB 436
The House approved this bill last week. It proposes $250 million in ongoing tax cuts plus using $350 million for one-time rebates. As usual, the legislature is focusing its efforts on doling out favors for the well connected. In other words, HB 436 overwhelmingly benefits corporations and people in the highest income bracket. Moreover, by obligating itself to fulfill this refund, the legislature is foreclosing opportunities to use these funds to address broader economic needs like eliminating the grocery tax, lowering property taxes, or fulfilling the state’s obligation to fully fund education. For a deeper understanding of what is at stake, watch this short video of House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel debating against this legislation. OPPOSE HB 436.
Voting Legislation | HB 439
HB 439 affects rules regarding party affiliation and primary voting. It precludes who can vote in a Republican Primary. Senator Mary Souza’s amendment extends the GOP’s primary voting restrictions previously applied to Democrats to also include Un-Affiliated Voters. The current law states that an unaffiliated voter is free to affiliate and vote with the party of their choice. They are also free to change their affiliation at any time up to and including the primary election date. In addition to tightening party affiliation parameters, the amendment also sets an obscure registration deadline; one that correlates with an existing Candidate Disclosure date. This obscure deadline is set to occur far ahead of pending primary election dates. Consequently, since most voters will not see it coming, the deadline acts as an additional measure to suppress voter participation. Please contact your representative and urge them to OPPOSE HB 439.
Housing Legislation | HB 442
Despite the ongoing housing boom, Idaho lacks sufficient affordable housing. The fact is most folks must rent and finding a decent and affordable rental property is difficult and comes with hidden costs. To make matters worse, the vacancy rate for rentals is just 1.8% which according to the Spokesman Review is a twenty-year low. There are local efforts to make renting less burdensome, but the legislature would rather make it more difficult. That is why we oppose HB 442. This legislation prevents local governments in Idaho from passing laws that could cap various charges for rental applications, late-payments, and attorney filing fees. If allowed to pass, this law would prevent local government agencies from taking steps to make finding and renting a home less costly. We OPPOSE HB 442. To learn more about efforts to support tenants and their families, visit idahoassetnetwork.org.