Closeup of a computer keyboard with a key labeled "Vote." A miniature ballot box is sitting on the key

Ballot measures face tougher road to qualification under Idaho resolution

© iStock - abluecup
Eric Tegethoff

(Northern Rockies News Service) Idaho lawmakers are attempting to change the ballot initiative process again - this time with an amendment to the state Constitution. 

Senate Joint Resolution 101 would refer a resolution to voters that would require signatures from 6 percent of registered voters in all 35 Idaho districts to get an initiative on the ballot. 

It's similar to a measure legislators passed in 2021 that was deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. 

Gina Moore - senior manager of the defend direct democracy campaign atthe Ballot Initiative Strategy Center - said it will make the process more costly and difficult for grassroots organizations.

"What they're trying to do with this bill," said Moore, "is make it harder to put these issues on the ballot before voters."

Moore says initiatives are one of best tools available for passing substantive policies that impact communities. 

Supporters of the resolution say it would give every district a voice in the initiative process. Opponents claim Idahoans from across the state still are able to approve or disapprove initiatives when they vote on it.

Moore said the resolution and others like it that have popped up across the country are not attempts to reform the process or make it more equitable.

"It's usually a reaction or trying to undermine the process," said Moore, "because they don't like the decision that people in their state have made."

In 2018, the organization Reclaim Idaho succeeded in getting a Medicaid expansion measure on the ballot, which ultimately passed with more than 60 percent support. 

In 2019, legislators passed stricter requirements on the expanded program, including work requirements for recipients.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.