Election 2020: Online voter registration closes Friday

Advance voter registration closes Friday in Idaho, signaling a key deadline leading up to November’s historic election.

Don’t worry though, Idahoans still have time and options — but the clock is ticking.

It may be easiest for many Idahoans to hop online today or tomorrow and quickly register. If Idahoans want to request an absentee ballot, they must be registered to vote before they request an absentee ballot, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said.

“Doing so online is the faster way, as long as you have an Idaho driver’s license or state ID,” Houck said.

If you miss Friday’s deadline, you can still vote.

“Of course, in Idaho we have same day registration, so if someone misses it they can still register during early voting at the polls,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said.

Houck and McGrane spoke with Idaho Education News on Thursday to discuss the important deadlines and procedures for this year’s election.

What are my options for voting this year?

  • Absentee voting.
  • Early voting/ in-person absentee voting (your county will offer at least one option or the other).
  • Traditional in-person voting at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3.

What are the key deadlines?

  • Friday: Advance registration and online registration closes.
  • Oct. 13: Early voting begins in Ada, Canyon and many Idaho counties.
  • Oct. 23: Last day to request an absentee ballot
  • Oct. 30: Last day for early voting.
  • Nov. 3: Election day. Polls will be open for in-person voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All absentee ballots must be received by the local county clerk’s office no later than 8 p.m.

How can I check to see if I am registered or if I already requested an absentee ballot?

Visit www.idahovotes.gov, the state’s official election information website. You can also check your polling location there. Keep in mind, your polling location may change for November.

What is on the ballot?

The presidential election, a U.S. Senate race, U.S. House of Representatives races, legislative races and HJR4, an Idaho constitutional amendment that asks voters to consider whether or not to permanently set the number of state senators and legislative districts at 35. Some Idahoans will also vote on candidates for their school board or local community college board, retaining judges or even a highway district race.

What if I requested an absentee ballot and changed my mind and want to vote in-person?

Whatever you do, don’t burn it, Houck said. Instead, save your absentee ballot and bring it with you to your local county clerk’s office or elections office once early voting begins Tuesday. You can also bring it with you to vote in-person on Election Day and ask poll workers about inventorying your absentee ballot and spoiling it. If voters already requested an absentee ballot and attempt to vote in-person at the polls without bringing their absentee ballot with them, they will not be able to vote in-person until the situation is resolved, Houck said.

How safe is the election? How safe is absentee voting?

Both McGrane and Houck said Idaho’s election system is safe and they are not worried about it being tainted by voter fraud.

“I have high confidence, I know, with some of the additional security changes we’ve added,” McGrane said.

Some of those security enhancements include video surveillance of ballot boxes and installing new streaming cameras at elections offices so the public can monitor election workers doing their jobs.

Although voting absentee may be new for many Idahoans this year, it is not a new practice and it is not new to election workers. Idaho has used the same policies and procedures for absentee voting since 1972, Houck said, with the only major changes being advances in technology.

“These are tested and true processes that leave very little room for fraud,” Houck said. “And in the case of fraud they leave significant paper trails.”

There are several security measures embedded in the absentee voting process that election workers are verifying, from the envelope itself, to the voter’s signature, to a unique bar code on the ballot and watermarks unique to each county that the state says cannot be reproduced by color copiers.

When will we get the results?

Houck and McGrane both said unofficial state results for Idaho races should be available early Wednesday Nov. 4. As for the last word on the presidential election? That might take longer.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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