Two states will be holding caucuses this year instead of traditional primaries, after their legislatures canceled the presidential primaries but then missed the deadline to bring them back.
Caucuses in Missouri and Idaho are now scheduled to be held on March 2, which actually means they’ll be held near the start of the primary selection process. Their primary elections would’ve been held on March 12, but the GOP-legislatures in both states eliminated them.
The Republican National Committee put in place a deadline of September 30 for states to reinstate their primary elections, but lawmakers in both Missouri and Idaho missed that deadline.
Lawmakers in Idaho passed legislation this year that was meant to save money. The law, which was backed by Phil McGrane, the state’s Republican secretary of state, was supposed to move its primary election to May 21 so that it coincided with other primary elections that were happening in the state.
Inadvertently, though, the bill they passed canceled the presidential primary in March, and then never reinstated it.
A similar thing happened in Missouri. Last year, lawmakers canceled their state’s primary election when they passed a broad elections law that Jay Ashcroft, the secretary of state there, backed.
Among other things, the law set new requirements for photo identification for those who wish to cast a vote.
Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle in Missouri said they wanted to reinstate their presidential primary, they weren’t able to pass any legislation that would officially do so by the RNC’s deadline.
As such, both states are forced to now hold caucuses instead of primary elections.
What this means for residents is that if they want to vote, they won’t be going to traditional polling places on a Tuesday. Instead, they have to attend a meeting with local Republicans on a Saturday.
The GOP caucuses in Idaho will include one voting round for the presidential candidates.
Kiir Turnbow, the executive director of the Idaho Republican Party, said they were trying to make the process easy and not overwhelm people, which is why they’re keeping voting to one round.
The process will be slightly different in Missouri. People who want to vote have to attend a meeting that will start at 10 a.m., and officials said those voters should plan to stay around for some time.
Nick Myers, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, wanted lawmakers in the state to reinstate the primary elections. With the change, he acknowledged the challenge of caucuses.
“The timetable makes it harder. Let’s say you’re a nurse, a first responder, you’re on shift that day, you cannot get off at 10 a.m. to go to your local caucus, then you’re not going to be able to participate.”
Democrats in Missouri will still hold a presidential primary on March 23, and people can also vote by mail. In Idaho, Democrats will hold their own presidential caucuses, which are scheduled for May 25.