Are Conservative Churches covertly Engaging in Politics?

I have heard recently from concerned Dems that there are local churches who are opening their doors for political gatherings. Although this seems peculiar, it does happen. Yet, churches caught using their facilities in this way risk losing their tax-exempt status. Given the concern, I shared this information with the Idaho Democratic Party (IDP). Unfortunately, their response was not very encouraging. According to the IDP, this is a known practice, and they are looking into it. Yet, it is difficult to enforce restrictions on churches given the lack of government oversight regarding this practice. Ideally, the way to shed light on the issue is to capture video evidence of such a gathering. Another key piece of evidence is proof that the church is receiving payment for the political use of its property. Currently, the IDP knows of no church losing its tax-exempt status for engaging in overt political activities.

Keep Your Eyes on Questionable Legislation

HB 547

With the Legislature in session, the GOP led legislature is cooking up various forms of voter suppression. For example, under the guise of preventing “Ballot Harvesting, the house is proposing HB 547. This bill places restrictions on ballot collection from home bound voters. Ironically, the bill’s statement of purpose states the obvious. “Idaho does not currently experience significant problems with ballot harvesting.” In other words, they are trying to solve a problem that does not exist. Therefore, there is no real need for this bill. Rather, it is a further complication that makes it harder to vote.

HB 549

Another bill under consideration is HB 549. This wide sweeping bill makes changes to Idaho Code affecting the registration of electors, electronic voter registration, valid forms of voter identification, and stipulations regarding provisional ballots, as well as other changes. For example, the bill restricts the use of student ID for voter registration and voting. In addition, the bill nullifies same-day registration on Election Day. To be exact, the bill states that “All voter registrations, including electronic, must be completed and received thirty (30) days prior to the date of the election; except that late registration is permitted in-person at the county clerk’s office by the close of business on the Friday before the election.” In addition, the bill modifies the current code regarding provisional ballots. The new code reads as follows: “a provisional ballot shall not be counted or canvassed unless and until the voter casting the provisional ballot presents proper identification to the county clerk within ten (10) days following the date of the election.”

Stand Up to Voter Suppression

Under the guise of election security, these measures suppress first-time voter participation. In other words, these legislative efforts are another ploy by the GOP to cement their political dominance. Consequently, this is a winning issue we must organize around. Ironically, it not only affects our voters but their voters as well. During the 2020 election, one million Idaho Republicans voted early, two hundred and fifty thousand Republicans voted by mail, and twenty-five thousand Republicans registered and voted on election day. What may come as no surprise is that they voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The bottom line is we do not need this legislation. Therefore, please convey a message to your elected representatives that they should reject this bill.

Frank and Bethine Church Gala

On a brighter note, it is that time of year when the Idaho Democratic Party gathers for the 28th Annual Frank and Bethine Church Gala. The event takes place in Boise from March 11-13. I hope you will make plans to attend or participate remotely. To add levity to the event, Boise-based comedian Beth Norton will be the emcee.

Have a fantastic week everyone and for those who watch, … enjoy the Superbowl.

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