Idaho Follows Oregon: Moves to Vote by Mail

  The state of Idaho announced that their May 19 primary election will be exclusively “vote by mail” to slow the spread of COVID-19 through the state’s existing absentee ballot system.  

“In order to keep Idahoans safe amid a growing global health pandemic and protect their right to vote,” according to an announcement from Chad Houck, Idaho’s Chief Deputy Secretary of State.  

Each voter who plans to participate must request an absentee ballot either online through the Secretary of State website or through their local county clerk. The Idaho Statesman reported that the state can’t automatically mail ballots since there are three different ballots – Republican, Democrat, and Constitution.  

“We will be sending an absentee ballot request to every registered voter that has NOT already requested a ballot for May, so if you can’t access, you don’t need to worry,” said Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. “We will send you a request form to your registered address by mail in the next roughly 10-14 days.”  

The announcement also said that any voters who have accessibility concerns should directly contact their county clerk’s office to discuss possible accommodations.  

What Idaho could learn from Oregon: According to the Idaho Secretary of State office, in the 2016 general election, 59.07 percent of the state’s residents who were eligible voted, that’s 75.91 percent of registered voters.    

Just for comparison in Oregon 70.2 percent of people eligible to vote turned in ballots for the 2016 general election. That’s 80.3% of registered voters turned out.   

Idaho leans heavily conservative:  Idaho as a state heavily leans republican. During the 2016 election Idaho primarily voted Republican for the 2016 presidential election and also voted in a Republican supermajority into their state legislature that same year. The governor, the state’s senators, and their representatives are also all Republican.  

By Samantha Sied