Idaho Ballot Initiatives Appear to Boost Early Voter Turnout
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An unusually high number of Idaho residents have voted early, and two high-profile ballot initiatives appear to be driving some of the turnout.
About 115,000 Idaho voters through Wednesday have cast ballots. That's about a 17 percent increase from the 2014 midterm election early voting. Early voting ended Friday.
"I've always said that what's on the ballot and who is on the ballot typically drives turnout," said Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. "Both of the initiatives are fairly controversial, and there has been a lot of money spent on both. I think that is driving people to want to vote."
Proposition 1 seeks to legalize historical horse racing devices that backers say will save live horse racing and provide money for schools. Opponents say the devices are the equivalent of illegal slot machines that expand gambling.
Proposition 2 would expand Medicaid to an estimated 62,000 working Idaho residents who are in a gap population that earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies.
David Cooper, a 50-year-old Boise firefighter, said he has a 24-hour shift on Tuesday that would prevent him from voting that day, but he wanted to support Proposition 2.
"In this state, in particular, the Medicaid expansion is pretty important for all of us," he said after voting at Boise City Hall on Friday. "And I voted for the candidates I felt would support that."
Carly Shalz, 22, got her vote in early at the same location and said Proposition 1 and the money it would raise education was a motivating factor for her.
"I value education very much, and anything to promote better education here in Idaho is a definite 'yes' for me," she said.
Zerfame Erdillo, 39, also voted for Proposition 1. If passed, live horse racing would resume at Les Bois Park horse racing track just outside Boise.
"I have a daughter that loves horses, and that was a place that we always went to," Erdillo said. "We don't bet on it. We just watch and have fun. So I just want to see that back so we can go again."