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Primary voter turnout predicted to be 26 percent, but county projections vary

Primary voter turnout predicted to be 26 percent, but county projections vary

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
May 25, 2010

Just over a quarter of Idaho voters are expected to cast a vote in Tuesday’s primary election, though some counties anticipate a smaller turnout.  Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, whose office oversees elections and voter information, said he expects a 26 percent turnout for the primary.  That level of participation by registered voters would be in line with the last three primary elections, when turnout ranged from 25.3 to 26.8 percent, according to the secretary of state’s website.

Election officials in two of Idaho’s largest counties, Ada County in southwest Idaho and Kootenai County in north Idaho, expect turnout to match Ysursa’s prediction.  Canyon County officials expect a larger proportion of voters.  “We estimate it a little bit higher than that,” said Brad Jackson, Canyon County chief deputy clerk.  “You don’t want to run out of ballots.”  Jackson said the number of ballots is a practical concern, because new optical scan ballots can only be used for one election and cost 27 cents each.  “There are financial consequences, and that’s why we’re very careful.”

Other counties are expecting turnout below the secretary of state’s prediction.  “I don’t think it would be that high of a vote,” said Bannock County Clerk Dale Hatch, who said he expects turnout of 20 percent.

Bonneville County’s election supervisor, Bobbie Jockumsen, said she also expects turnout below a quarter of the population.  “It would be nice if we got that many but I’d be surprised,” she said.

“I would say tomorrow would be about normal for a primary election,” said Larry Haycock, elections supervisor for Twin Falls County.  “I don’t think it would go higher than 25 percent.”

County election officials said early voting totals, including mailed-in absentee ballots and in-person voting in clerks’ offices, are on pace with expectations.  “We’re right about where we usually are for a primary,” said Carrie Phillips, Kootenai County’s election supervisor.  In-person voting ended on Monday, though absentee ballots can be sent in on Tuesday.  Starting with the November general election, early voting at clerks’ offices will finish on the Friday before Election Day, thanks to a law approved by state lawmakers earlier this year.

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