Tribune: Early signs point to paltry turnout for spring primary

It’s early, but turnout for a historic vote-by-mail spring primary election could be historically low.

Fewer than 60,000 Idahoans have requested absentee ballots through Monday, Bill Spence of the Lewiston Tribune reported Tuesday. That translates to about 7 percent of the state’s registered voters.

By comparison, 33 percent of registered voters took part in the May 2018 primary. In 2016, only 23 percent of registered voters took part, the lowest turnout since 1980, Spence reported.

In order to reach just that 23 percent turnout, more than 205,000 Idahoans would need to vote in the primary, Spence reported.

Idaho has shifted to a vote-by-mail primary, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

There is still time for voters to request a ballot, through their county clerk or through the Idaho Votes website. Secretary of State Lawerence Denney says Idahoans should allow 10 to 14 days for an absentee ballot to arrive in the mail.

Voters must mail in their absentee ballot by May 19 — the regularly scheduled date for the spring primary. Ballots received by June 2 will be counted.

The spring ballot includes contested primaries for Congress and U.S. Senate, and 45 contested legislative primaries. All 105 legislative seats are on the ballot this year.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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