As Expected, Idaho Voter Turnout Was Down
Technically it was a good election, but disappointing in turnout according to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. The lowest percentage of registered voters in Idaho's history showed up to the polls Tuesday. Just 23 percent of registered voters cast a ballot during the first ever closed Republican primary. That means Tuesday's election brought fewer Idaho voters to the polls than the state's previous record low of 25 percent, which happened in the 1988 May primary election featuring Republican candidate George H.W. Bush running against Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. There's differing opinions on why this year’s number dropped. While it's commonly known that candidates and issues drive elections, Ysursa believes the low numbers of this election point to the closed Republican primary. Statewide 179,489 of the roughly 750,000 registered voters went to the polls. Ada County, the state's largest pool of registered voters, had one of the lowest turnouts at 16.74 percent. Clark County, located in rural eastern Idaho, had a nearly 70 percent turnout. In the Magic Valley, Cassia County saw nearly 50 percent turnout of voters. Franklin and Bear Lake counties also had about 50 percent participation. Despite a contested sheriff’s race, Blaine County had a turnout of about 13 percent The Idaho Republican Party and its Executive Director Jonathan Parker has a different outlook. He says he believes it actually has more to do that we didn't have a presidential election on the ballot. And there were other races not on the ballot as well such as the U.S. Senate and state officials. If the closed primary played a role in the turnout, Parker says it was only a very small one.