On the floor of the Senate in afternoon session. The sun shines down from above through the frosted sky lights and we Democrats are posing a long series of questions to Brent Hill, the Senator charged with carrying the Republican Party's closed primary bill.
The bill gets personal to me. As you dig through the layers you find that not only does it allow Republicans to do as they have long wished to and close their primary races off to Democrats or even independent voters, but in fact it forces counties all over the state to reveal publicly which ballot an independent or unaffiliated voter chooses when they come to vote in any primary election — even a Democratic primary that our party will keep open to anyone.
Even worse, this choice of chosen primary ballot by an unaffiliated or independent voter will become an assigned party affiliation for that voter if they choose to vote in a primary that is closed by a party like the Republican Party. And it will not be easy for voters under this legislation to get your names again unaffiliated and your selves once again unassociated with a political party if you perhaps don't live and die by political parties and you want instead to vote for the candidate of your choice without having a Political Party listed by your name.
But today the debate is unlike any I've seen. Many Republicans in this room smile at our questions, nod and many even laughed when Diane Bilyeu asked Senator Hill to explain why the Republican Party brought the lawsuit that forced the state to pass legislation changing its primary elections. It was a bold question and Senator Hill answered that he could not explain that.
But Senator Siddoway just now stood, clearly shaken, he broke ranks and debated how the Republican Party has forced its way into the Capitol "into our house" to make him and others pass this legislation. In the gallery, Rod Beck, former Republican Party Chair sat watching. Siddoway concluded his debate against the bill telling Senators to vote yes. Many laughed. His statement obviously adhered to whatever agreement was reached on this bill in the closed Republican caucus meeting held yesterday upstairs in the grand room facing West.
Like Senator Siddoway, I grew up in the small town wilds of rural East central Idaho where privacy is precious. This bill did not have to trample on Idaho's privacy. No court or judge or constitution dictated that it do that — but sadly that is exactly what the Republican Party has chosen that it will do, that the state will do and that we all must suffer with as this bill flies through the statehouse to become law.