BOISE, Idaho — A former GOP state lawmaker has launched a new political action committee to encourage Independent and Democratic voters to register as Republicans so they can participate in Idaho’s closed GOP primary election.

Kathy Skippen said Wednesday that her group — called Moderates Are Taking Hold — will help educate Independent and Democratic voters on the importance of casting a vote in the GOP primary because Republican candidates rarely face competitive opponents in the general election.

The Idaho Republican Party closed the state’s GOP primary nearly five years ago so that only registered party members can participate.

While the move did not result in a steep drop in voter turnout, critics argue it has forced candidates to woo the state’s strongest conservatives and ignore moderates.