- Associated Press - Friday, July 1, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Supporters of sweeping changes to Idaho’s campaign finance laws have failed to collect enough valid signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot.

Holli Woodings, a Boise Democrat who chaired the Keep Idaho Elections Accountable campaign, said Friday that her group needed at least 48,000 valid signatures, but they fell short by about 6,000.

The group had submitted roughly 79,000 signatures to be verified by county clerks in May - who didn’t finish until Thursday evening. Many of the signatures were disqualified because they did not have current addresses.

“The county clerks were wonderful,” said Woodings, who unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for Secretary of State in 2014. “We just didn’t have enough.”

The group’s initiative would have made significant changes to Idaho’s Sunshine Law, passed by overwhelming popular vote in 1974. The law set many of the rules used today to govern campaign contributions and lobbyist activity disclosure. Initiative proposals included changing some state candidate contribution limits, stricter penalties for breaking campaign finance laws and banning lobbyists from giving elected officials gifts valued at $50 or more.

Woodings’ group decided to push the changes through a voter initiative because the proposed changes have failed to gain traction in the Republican-dominated Statehouse.

However, ever since Idaho lawmakers drastically changed voter initiative requirements in 2013, no proposed initiative has successfully managed to get on the Idaho ballot. According to Idaho law, voter initiatives must have signatures from 6 percent of the total of those who voted in the last presidential election from 18 out of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.

For Woodings’ group, a majority of the signatures were disqualified because they did not have current addresses. Signatures are automatically thrown out if the signer isn’t a registered voter or if their current address listed on the petition doesn’t match their voter registration record. Idaho allows same-day registration on election days so voters don’t typically update their information until the day of an election.

“We are going to continue the good fight, we are not done advocating for change,” Woodings said.

The initiative campaign raised $229,543 in contributions, with the biggest donations coming from a handful of out-of-state individuals who gave $20,000. Supporters had about $41,000 on hand by the time they handed over their signatures for review, according to campaign finance records.

Other ballot initiatives that also failed to collect enough signatures for the November ballot include efforts to legalize marijuana, increasing the cigarette and tobacco product tax rate, and restricting candidate campaign contributions to only the individuals who are constituents of the candidate’s office.

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