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Ballot requests set election records

Idaho absentee ballot requests

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-Idaho’s May Primary Election may set new turnout records.

The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office said Idahoans requested 415,500 absentee ballots before the May 19 deadline.  It was easily the largest absentee request ever recorded, but may also be the largest voter turnout of any non-gubernatorial primary election in Idaho history.

The absentee request represents almost 46% of the state’s 907,342 registered voters.  Since the ballots haven’t all been returned yet, it is unknown how many will actually cast ballots.  Voters have until 8 p.m. on June 2 to return the ballots by mail. 

But the Secretary’s Office said it does represent an unprecedented response.  The 2016 primary, for example, had a 23% voter turnout and a total of 176,806 ballots cast.

“The numbers truly speak for themselves,” said Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. “Voting is a right Idahoans hold dear and they were not going to let the coronavirus get in their way of participating in the May Primary Election. We want to say thank you to all of the Idahoans who adapted with us through these changing circumstances. We also want to say thank you to all of the election workers across the state who have worked so hard over the last few months to keep Idahoans safe and make it possible for them to vote from home.” 

To properly return the ballot, voters must insert it into the privacy sleeve that comes in the packet, then place that into the second outer envelope, sign it, and seal it before mailing the voted ballot back to their local elections office. Ballots should be returned as soon as possible to ensure they are received by the deadline.  All ballots were sent with a pre-addressed official return envelope, and most included pre-paid postage.  For those without postage, grocers statewide have stepped in to assist voters in getting their ballots returned at no cost.

Initial results of the election will begin to be released at 9 p.m. MT on June 2.

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