POCATELLO, Idaho - Voting along political lines is always a source of debate. Some people vote all the way Republican, others Democratic, others vote based on each candidate, and others just get so frustrated with the whole thing they don't vote at all.
But the Bannock County Republican and Democrat chairmen say whether you affiliate with one party or another, affiliating is one sure way you will have a say in November's election, before you even vote in November. But what does it mean to affiliate?
"Affiliation means you're affiliated with the party," said Bannock County Republican Chairman Jordan Cheirrett. "It means that your core beliefs agree with what the majority of what that same party agrees with."
But choosing which party to affiliate with, if you have remained unaffiliated, is very important. Republicans have a closed primary; Democrats do not, and especially in our area in Idaho, sometimes Democrats have no primary at all.
"If you want to vote the Republican ticket, you would have to affiliate as a republican," said Bannock County Elections administrator Colleen McCulloch. "If you want to vote the Democratic ticket, you can be affiliated as a Democrat, Republican, Constitution, Libertarian or an unaffiliated party."
In the past, affiliating with another party has been used to try and get the weaker candidate selected out of an opposing party, the goal being your candidate being chosen. But that doesn't always work out.
"That's not a constructive approach.," said Dave Finklenberg, Bannock County Democrat Chairman. "I mean, all of us who are involved in politics should be working for the long-term good of the people."
Finklenberg also said this plan can backfire, and the weaker candidate you don't like could end up in the seat you were trying to save for your political candidate. That's why Finklenberg said he likes the open primary the Democratic Party has.
"Requiring you to declare your party, which makes it a matter of public record," Finklenberg said, "is something not everyone is comfortable doing."
As our viewing area has a strong Republican presence, especially in the upper Snake River Valley, affiliating as a Republican could be beneficial. Finklenberg said if you are more liberal and decide to affiliate with the Republican Party for the primary elections, it's best to try and get the most moderate candidate elected.
If you are uncomfortable being affiliated with a political party, there is no law or rule saying you have to stay that way. You can affiliate on the Tues., May 20 primary election, and become unaffiliated the next day.
Finklenberg and Cheirrett both said it's very important to vote in primaries, as those are usually uncontested races on the Democratic side. That means whichever Republican candidate wins in the primary may be guaranteed the political position simply by default - there's no other candidate to oppose them.
But Cheirrett also had some words of advice for anybody considering this route.
"Don't be ashamed of who you are and be proud to be supporting who you think is best," he said. "Even if you're going to lose, be proud to support them."
The deadline to become re-affiliated with another party, if you are already affiliated, is Mar. 14 by 5:00 p.m. If you are unaffiliated, you can sign up on the day of the primary elections, May 20, 2014.