Idaho Caucus


Today I will be participating in my first political caucus. At 11 AM today, registered Republicans across the state will gather at designated places to cast their ballot for President. Unlike California, voters must be registered by December 31st of 2023 and provide a government issued photo I.D. to be allowed into the building. Once admitted, we can cast a ballot. There is no same day registration or crossover nonsense like other states. Non-Republicans or folks residing in other counties are not permitted to enter.

Lines to enter Caucus

Electioneering is allowed by voters but not caucus officials. Also, candidates can have booths in the building, but candidates are not allowed into the venue unless they happen to be in their home county. Booths can be manned only by people living within the county that are also registered Republicans. They must pay for any booth and the money is used to offset the cost of the caucus; namely, advertising.

Per the local County Party, there will be six names on the ballot since that is the number that qualified for the ballot. (As in other states, suspending your campaign, resigning, or other means of exiting the primary battlefield do not remove anyone’s name from the ballot once the filing deadline has passed.) Given the current field, I think Trump will win handily but will it be with a 41 percent margin as it was in Michigan? We will see.

Check-in table–photo ID required

The doors close at 12:30 PM (half past noon for those readers from Rio Linda). Whether we can vote and go or must wait until 12:30 to mark a ballot is a bit murky. Once you turn in a ballot, your hand will be marked to prevent a second vote from occurring. (The jury is out on whether we will be marking the righthand or forehead of diehard Trump supporters.)

Red ink admission stamp

Ballot watching is encouraged, and ballots will be counted on the spot once voting is complete. Each county will send their results to the Party HQ in Boise and the state’s votes will be tallied. If anyone gets over 50 percent, then my understanding is that they will be awarded all the state’s delegates.

I’m not sure if this process will be a smooth one or a cluster you-know-what. I do know that the promised caucus notifications were never mailed to all registered Republicans. Many we unsure what to do or where and as a result this may reduce participation. I don’t know if this is just a local system failure or a statewide phenomenon.

Oh, the weather today is snowy. We have had about 4 inches since sunrise and it’s still coming down.

I plan to provide an update after I return from voting.


Here’s a summary of what I learned/observed.

The school gym was chosen because it has the largest crowd capacity of any building in the county. It could accommodate more than ten percent of the registered Republicans in the county which apparently was a criteria for building selection.

Candidate booth inside caucus

Since we didn’t get the Party mailer about the caucus, my wife and I had to try harder to figure out which table to go to in order to check in (each table was a different precinct.) We signed the ledger and received a red stamp on our hand. This allowed us to get past the guard at the door and enter the gymnasium.

Inside the gym there were tables for various candidates and in many cases the candidate himself was at their respective booth. On the far side of the building were the voting booths. I found out when trying to vote—which happened later—that the voting booths were literally made of cardboard. It was a flimsy platform for a political spectacle but somehow appropriate. Oh, said booths were borrowed from the county elections office.

Another candidate booth

Shortly after noon, the program which culminated in voting, began. The event started with an invocation. Next was the Pledge of Allegiance. Following the Pledge, there was a pause as one guy left the podium, and another took his place. During this pause, a portion of the crowd began singing the National Anthem. After about 15 seconds, the rest of those in attendance began to sing as well. It was clear that this was not part of the official program but was graciously received by the event’s hosts.

cardboard voting booths

Next were some obligatory instructions as to the process. These were followed by the ceremonial showing of a ballot box that was open for all to see—think something like a product exhibition on a tv gameshow like Let’s Make a Deal or the Price is Right—the purpose was to prove it was empty. Once this was completed, the box was shut and locked. Two people were selected to guard and count the ballots. Attendees were given an opportunity to object, but no one did. Oh, per state party instructions, the ballot box was filmed for the entire voting period to have a record that no tampering occurred. This pageantry was a not-so-subtle slam on the Democrat practice of stuffing ballot boxes. Vote ID and chain of custody for the ballots were clearly an emphasis of the event.

Yet another candidate booth photo

Two women passed out ballots and stamped the hands of each person that was given a ballot. This second stamp was black. Again, a clear effort is being made to keep folks honest.

Invocation begins the caucus

People were told that they could remain and observe the ballot counting. Official caucus observers representing candidates were introduced. At my caucus, only Donald Trump has an official observer.

With the preliminaries out of the way, it was time to vote. Well sort of. You see, each candidate was allowed a five-minute video to plug their campaign. These were supposed to be shown first but the videos actually started as ballots were being handed out. People in line to vote had their backs to the videos which were projected on the gym wall opposite where the voting was taking place. People in line literally had to look over their shoulders to see the video. Trump’s video was first. Its conclusion was greeted with applause. Then Nikki Haley’s video started. It was greeting with a chorus of boos and catcalls.

My ballot before marking my choice for 2024

I took a quick photo of my blank ballot, filled it out and then dropped it in the box.

photo showing both hand stamps


Here are the results of the caucus in my county.

Donald Trump 90.8 percent
Nikki Haley 7.7 percent

Raw data
Trump 462 votes
Haley 39 votes
Ramaswamy 3 votes
DeSantis 3 votes
Binkley 1 votes
Undervotes 0 votes

Total votes Cast 509

Turnout was about ten percent

All other offices will be voted upon in the May primary.

Note: per Politico, with 67.4 percent reporting statewide, Idaho has gone for Trump 84.6 percent to Haley at 13.5 percent.