AP: Voter turnout beats previous election cycles

More than three in 10 registered voters took part in last month’s primaries — and while that might not sound like much, it’s still an improvement from previous election cycles.

Roughly 264,000 people voted in the primaries, Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press reported Monday.

Historically, May primaries are low-turnout affairs. And that’s what makes this year’s turnout significant. It’s the highest turnout for a round of statewide party primaries since 2002, when nearly a third of registered voters went to the polls.

In 2014 — the last time parties selected nominees for governor and other statewide offices — only 26 percent of registered voters went to the polls.

But this year, several high-profile races punctuated the primary ballot. After an often bitter campaign costing at least $10.4 million, Republicans and Democrats chose their nominees in the open governor’s race. The primaries for lieutenant governor and 1st Congressional District were also wide-open — and crowded with candidates.

“I always say what really drives voter turnout comes down to what and who is on the ballot,” Secretary of State Lawerence Denney told Kruesi Friday. “This year we had a lot of interesting races.”

Next up for voters: the Nov. 6 general election. But first, Idahoans will get a better sense of the price of the May elections in mid-June, when candidates have to file their post-election campaign finance reports.

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