Idaho law is clear and strict about who can and cannot vote in state and local elections. Voters must be residents in the state of Idaho. Not Montana. Not New York. Not Texas. Not California.

It follows that candidates elected to public office represent residents, not people passing through or non-residents that happen to own property in the state.

It sounds simple, and it is. Yet convenience and pandering are muddying local political waters this election year.

It’s becoming fashionable for local candidates for office to say that they represent people who live in the Sun Valley area for short periods and who own property, but for whom the area is not home.

Idaho law says they don’t.

It defines a “qualified elector” as any person, who is 18 years of age, is a U.S. citizen and who has resided in Idaho and in the county at least 30 days preceding the election at which he desires to vote, and who is registered as required by law.

It defines “residence” for voting purposes as the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person.

If property ownership alone qualified an elector, individuals who own property in many locales could vote in many different places and wield outsized influence.

Some states such as Colorado are allowing cities to decide if property ownership alone can create an elector. This makes part-time residents happy, but flies in the face of American history in which patriots died to be free from foreign domination.

Anyone may lobby elected officials, but Idaho’s officeholders represent residents. It’s their duty to work on behalf of residents’ best interests—and to remember that duty.

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