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A Letter from Your Elected Official: Jason Dixon

by | Feb 1, 2022 | Clerk Press Releases, Highlights, Letter from Elected Official

Preparing for the May 17 Primary Election

Each year as the election season approaches, I find that there is a common misunderstanding and sense of confusion about party affiliation and voting in a Primary Election in Idaho. As the elected Bannock County Clerk, I’m also your Chief Elections Officer, so I felt it my responsibility to try to clear things up.

On May 17, Idaho will hold a Primary Election to determine who will be on the ticket for the General Election on November 8. The offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and many other state and local offices will be on the ballot.

While this election may seem weeks and months away, there may be steps you need to take now in order to prepare to vote on May 17.

Since this is a Primary Election, voters will have different ballots based on their party affiliation. A voter has the right to request which ballot style they would like to use in a Primary. Typically, in our area this means they could request one of the following styles: Republican, Democrat, or nonpartisan.

Most often, the issue we see is a voter who may want to vote for all of the candidates that they support, regardless of party. Or maybe they don’t have strong feelings about their party affiliation and will request a nonpartisan ballot, only to find the candidate they support is not on the ballot.  This is frustrating! Understanding that Primary Elections are affiliated races is critical to making the right selection of your ballot. So, let’s begin a quick lesson in party affiliation and Primary Elections.

Primary Elections and Party Affiliation

Party affiliation applies to the Primary Election in May of even numbered years.  Each even numbered year the political parties decide whether to have an open or closed Primary. An open Primary means anyone can request and vote that party ballot. A closed Primary means the voter must be affiliated or registered with that party to vote that party’s ballot. This year the Republican, Constitution, and Libertarian Parties chose to have closed Primary Elections.  In order to vote on one of these party ballots, you must be registered with that corresponding party.  A voter can only choose one ballot per election and cannot vote in multiple parties’ primaries.

Per Idaho code 34-411A a voter can change their affiliation up until the tenth (10) Friday preceding a Primary Election, and this year that deadline is March 11 by 5 p.m. Voters can change their affiliation by filing a Party Affiliation Declaration form with the Election’s Office at 141 North 6th Avenue in Pocatello or by visiting to update their voter registration.

Here is the most critical source of frustration we find in the Election’s Office: The “non-partisan” ballot will ONLY have the non-partisan races, such as judges and ballot questions.

There is NOT a ballot option that has all party candidates on it.  These are affiliated races in which a voter has to choose which candidate to support by choosing their candidate’s party ballot.


A voter is registered as Republican. They have the option of choosing one of the following;

Republican Party Ballot

Democratic Party Ballot

Nonpartisan Ballot

A voter is registered as Democratic. They have the option of choosing one of the following;

Democratic Party Ballot

Nonpartisan Ballot

A voter is unaffiliated (means you have not registered with a political party). They have the option to choose one of the following;  *unless Legislation changes.

*Republican Party Ballot-the voter will then become affiliated with the Republican Party

*Constitution Party Ballot- the voter will then become affiliated with the Constitution Party

*Libertarian Party Ballot-the voter will then become affiliated with the Libertarian Party

Democratic Party Ballot

Nonpartisan Ballot

Because the Republican, Constitution, and Libertarian Parties choose to hold closed primaries, voters MUST affiliate or be affiliated with the corresponding party. After the Primary Election, voters can choose to disaffiliate with any given party.

I hope this offers some clarity as we head into yet another election season. Our diligent staff at Bannock County Elections is already hard at work to prepare for this election. If you have any further questions, please call the Elections Office at (208) 236-7333 and they will be happy to walk you through the process.

Learn more:

Idaho Codes




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