Pin It

Save Our Democracy 

Fingerprinting? There's a better way to protect Idaho's elections

  • Caleb Walsh illustration

For close to 50 years, Idaho has elected Republicans to the office of Secretary of State. In our deeply "red" state this is hardly surprising, but what is notable is how little their party affiliation has mattered.

Republicans Pete Cenarrusa and Ben Ysursa have run the office of Secretary of State with a deep commitment to nonpartisanship, ensuring that elections are run fairly and that every citizen's right to vote is respected. In doing so, they have become some of the most popular elected officials in Idaho's history.

Idahoans have come to take this nonpartisan approach to our elections for granted. It's a fundamental expectation we have for the office and it's assumed anyone running for the position would, of course, continue the tradition of looking out for all Idaho voters, regardless of their party.

click to enlarge reuter.jpg

In fact, this is so ingrained that both Democrat Holli Woodings and Republican Lawerence Denney have publicly and repeatedly pledged to follow the nonpartisan example set by Cenarrusa and Ysursa. If we could count on both of them to truly follow that pledge, there wouldn't be much at stake in the race for Secretary of State this November.

For her part, Woodings appears to be sincerely committed to open and fair elections. She's emphasized increasing voter participation, transparency around campaign contributions and making sure voters have the information they need to make an informed decision. (All three were also priorities for Ysursa and Cenarrusa.) She's demonstrated her commitment to these goals by creating a new election phone app called "IdaVotes" as part of her campaign — it provides fair election information, even including a link to her opponent's campaign website.

Denney has different policy priorities. He says the most important issue is "ballot security" and has proposed scanning voters' fingerprints before allowing them to vote. He also wants to shrink the Secretary of State's job by eliminating primary elections and letting Republican and Democratic Party bosses choose their nominees without interference from the voters.

Just as troubling as his radical ideas on how to run Idaho's elections (at least those elements he plans on eliminating) is Denney's partisan record. His Republican colleagues tossed him from the Speakership of the Idaho House after he was found to be untrustworthy for the position, punishing his own members for raising legitimate ethics issues or casting votes based on their conscience rather than his whims.

He also personally stopped a bipartisan bill to reform lawmakers' pensions when they take higher office — an action that now means he has the opportunity to pocket payments of more than $70,000 a year from the state of Idaho forever, if he wins this election. By the way, at the same time he was protecting his own future payday, he opposed increasing pay by even 1 percent for state employees.

It's true that Republicans have occupied the office of Secretary of State since the late 1960s. But if Idahoans are going to continue our tradition of fair and open elections, the best thing to do isn't to vote for establishing fingerprinting at the ballot box. Instead, it's to vote for Democrat Holli Woodings. ♦

John T. Reuter, a former Sandpoint City Councilman, is the executive director of Conservation Voters for Idaho. He has been active in protecting Idaho's environment, expanding LGBT rights and the Idaho Republican Party.


  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • A Win for Everyone
  • A Win for Everyone

    The water protectors at Standing Rock achieve an important victory
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • My Dinner with Fidel
  • My Dinner with Fidel

    Looking back nearly 20 years, when three Americans sat down with the Western Hemisphere's most notorious communist
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • 'No' to Sessions
  • 'No' to Sessions

    Trail Mix: Murray opposes AG pick Sessions, McMorris Rodgers' future
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 6

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by John T. Reuter

  • A Way Forward
  • A Way Forward

    Five things we can (and must) do without Washington, D.C.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Defending North Idaho
  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Are You Not Entertained?
  • Are You Not Entertained?

    We cry for blood in our political fights. But this isn't reality TV — this is a real fight for the presidency
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment


green zone


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Grading the Session
  • Grading the Session

    The Idaho Legislature made some wise decisions in Boise, but they still get a "C" for "crazy"
    • Apr 22, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation