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Change to be proposed in how judicial incumbents are listed on Idaho ballots

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March 31, 2011

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Idaho: Larry Spencer, a Republican activist from northern Idaho, announced in late March 2011 that he plans to circulate petitions to qualify a ballot initiative for the November 2012 ballot that would change the way names of incumbent judges are listed on Idaho ballots. The initiative has not yet been filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's office.[1][2]

The change Spencer seeks is to end the practice of identifying, on the ballot, which judicial candidates are incumbents. Judicial candidates in Idaho are nonpartisan and therefore are not listed on the ballot with a party label. However, the current practice is to indicate by the name of a judicial candidate who is an incumbent that he or she is the incumbent in the race.

According to Spencer, putting a designation on the ballot to indicate which judges are incumbents gives those incumbents an advantage in judicial elections, since many voters are unfamiliar with the candidates in a judicial election when they enter the voting booth and may therefore typically default to voting for the incumbent.[1]

Spencer tried, but unsuccessfully, to get the Idaho State Legislature to adopt his idea of only listing the names of the candidates on the ballot, without their incumbency status. After his preferred legislation failed, he announced that he would attempt to put the matter before the state's voters by collecting about 45,000 signatures on a ballot initiative petition.[1]

See also