It will be early July before organizers will know if their effort to get the issue of Idaho's Medicaid gap on the November ballot was a success. That said, their confidence level is extremely high.
"It was like a steamroller in the final days of gathering signatures," said Sam Sandmire, the Ada County Medicaid for Idaho co-chair. "Once people understood what the petitions were for, it was a no-brainer."
In order to qualify for the November ballot, organizers needed to collect 56,192 signatures, or signatures from 6 percent of registered Idaho voters from the 2016 general election. Additionally, the signatures had to be geographically distributed to include at least 18 of Idaho's 35 legislative districts.
"The last important piece was for us to distribute the appropriate petitions to county clerk offices across Idaho. We had caravans of people dropping those off for the past couple of days," said Luke Mayville, the Sandpoint native and Reclaim Idaho co-founder who began the effort in 2017. "Then, the signatures have to be officially verified in each of those counties."
Organizers said it was important to have a much-needed "cushion" of extra signatures, in case any were invalidated at the county level.
"There are so many ways that a signature could be invalid. For instance, someone may have signed where they were supposed to have printed their name. Or maybe they wrote down an old address or even used the wrong-colored ink," said Sandmire. "That's why we set up our team of volunteers, pretending to be the most meticulous county clerks ever. We went through all the signatures before they were turned in."
If the issue is approved to appear on the November ballot, Mayville said the real work will begin to get statewide voter approval in the fall.
"We fully expect this to have a significant impact on voter turnout. As we collected signatures, we had conversations all across the state with people who haven't voted much in the past," said Mayville. "But when you tell them that this issue isn't about candidates and is instead about making real change with one vote, that's a pretty compelling reason to show up at the polls."