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Voter registration surges as presidential election looms

Roughly 1,400 Idaho County citizens have voted so far


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Election 2016

— Roughly 1,400 Idaho County citizens have voted so far, of about 9,600 registered for this election. That’s according to the arm of local government that’s tasked with overseeing elections – the Idaho County clerk’s office, which is now seeing about 40 voters per day casting early ballots.

The number of registered voters is hard to compare against prior years, according to county clerk Kathy Ackerman, because of a statewide change in the way the list is maintained. In 2012, when Idaho County backed Republican Mitt Romney over Democrat Barack Obama, by a 5,921 to 1,708 margin, the rolls listed more than 10,000 registered voters.

For the 2014 election, voter registration dipped to about 9,300. In part, that’s because some of those who had been registered didn’t vote in any election during a four-year period – and those who don’t vote at least once every four years are purged from the list.

In part that’s because a surge in voter interest is typical of presidential elections.

It’s normal to see crests in the statewide counts kept by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office – the peaks come every four years. 114,000 more Idahoans voted during Ronald Reagan’s inaugural 1980 win over Jimmy Carter than showed up for the 1982 midterms. 122,000 more participated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 win over Bob Dole than showed up for the 1998 midterms. 100,000 more Idahoans showed up for Bush v. Gore than for the 2002 midterms. 210,000 more voted during Obama v. Romney than did during the 2010 midterm.

For this year’s presidential election, the local registration count is already about 3 percent greater than the count during the entire midterm, when local voters backed Republican Skip Brandt over independent George Perry, 3,263 to 2,282, and backed Republican Mark Frei over Democrat Jerry Zumalt and independent Matthew Bybee, 3,326-2,018-337, in county commission races.

On Oct. 11, the Spokesman-Review reported voter registration statewide was running 40-50,000 ahead of the prior September. The most recent statewide count available through the Secretary of State’s website,, is dated Oct. 3.

With less than a month remaining before the election, statewide registration totaled about 785,000, with the long-term trend pointing to a possibility that for the first time, more than 900,000 Idahoans may be registered to vote this election day. If that comes to pass, it’s possible more than 700,000 Idahoans may vote this year.


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