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Idaho GOP presidential caucus ignores voices of men and women fighting for our freedom

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Idaho GOP presidential caucus ignores voices of men and women fighting for our freedom

Feb 12, 2024 | 6:15 am ET
By Marv Hagedorn
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Idaho GOP presidential caucus ignores voices of men and women fighting for our freedom
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To deny U.S. military members a chance to participate in the 2024 election process in Idaho is a betrayal of their service and sacrifices, writes guest columnist Marv Hagedorn. (Getty Images)

As a retired Navy chief warrant officer who dedicated over two decades of my life to serving in the military, I find myself deeply troubled by recent developments in Idaho’s political landscape. Idaho’s transition from a primary election to a presidential caucus system, purportedly to encourage voter participation, is not only causing confusion but is also disenfranchising an important portion of our electorate – our men and women in uniform, currently deployed and sacrificing for our nation.

The most recent Idaho Public Policy Survey has shed light on the overwhelming preference of Idaho voters (74%) for a primary election over a caucus. This preference aligns with our own experiences that primary elections and absentee ballots provide a more accessible way for citizens to exercise their right to vote. However, despite this widespread preference to share opinions about a future president, the decision to shift to a caucus was made, and Idaho GOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon stands at the forefront of this controversial move.

Idaho will have a presidential caucus in 2024 — not a primary. Here’s how they differ.

Chairwoman Moon’s public statements about enhancing voter participation seem contradictory when juxtaposed with the practical implications of a caucus. Deployed military personnel, already enduring significant challenges, are now faced with the additional burden of participating in an on-site caucus, a process that demands considerable time and effort. It is ironic that a change allegedly aimed at promoting civic engagement within the Republican Party is, in fact, suppressing the voices of those who have dedicated their lives to upholding our own right to vote and express our opinions.

Beyond the logistical challenges faced by our deployed military members, there is a broader concern about the implications of this shift. The caucus system, by its nature, tends to favor those with the flexibility to attend in person, excluding individuals who cannot afford to be physically present. This exclusionary approach undermines the principles of our nation – that every eligible citizen should have an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process.

The confusion surrounding the new system further exacerbates the problem. Voters are uncertain about where to go and how to navigate this unfamiliar process, adding unnecessary hurdles to their civic duty. Instead of fostering a spirit of engagement, the caucus system risks alienating voters and creating an environment where select political elites, including Chairwoman Moon, exert disproportionate power and influence over the party’s operations and candidate selection.

This injustice strikes at the very core of what our men and women in uniform fight for. Military members, both past and present, sacrifice time with their families, endure hardships, and sometimes pay the ultimate price to secure these fundamental rights for all Americans. To deny them the opportunity to participate in any part of the election process, especially something as critical as the majority party’s primary, is a betrayal of their service and sacrifices.

Please understand, active military members face constraints that prevent them from speaking up, writing letters to the editor, or publicly complaining about this injustice. They depend on veterans and vocal Idahoans to be their advocates.

Chairwoman Moon should be thinking of every voter to create a fair and accessible party election process. A caucus system, especially one that stifles the voices of our deployed military members, is not the way forward for Idaho Republicans. 

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