(March 27, 4:10 p.m.) BOISE -- Early Friday afternoon Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney delivered a formal request to Governor Brad Little to delay the May 19 Primary Election and to close all polling locations for the same.

In the letter to Governor Little, secretary Denney writes:

“In consultation with Idaho’s 44 County Clerks and in consideration of the extreme state of emergency that we now find ourselves in, I have serious concerns regarding the administration of the May 19, 2020 Primary Election. The recommendations by federal, state, and local public health authorities to limit public interactions makes the use of traditional polling places on Election Day extremely hazardous if not logistically impossible. As a result, we are considering alternative means within Idaho Code to be able to conduct this election and maintain public health and safety. We are specifically requesting an order to delay the election to no earlier than June 16th, providing every registered voter the opportunity to request an absentee ballot, in addition to requesting the closing of all polling locations.”

“The use of polling places presents a particular challenge in light of the danger we now face as a result of the coronavirus. Election Day regularly serves as the largest public event held in Idaho. On any given Election Day hundreds, if not thousands, of voters, from all walks of life, come and go sharing common materials and space in over 900 polling places across our state. Each of these voters having close interaction with those serving as poll workers. Many of these workers have reached out to their Clerks expressing concerns for their health and the health of their voters. Similarly, Clerks are being informed by many facilities commonly used as polling places that they are not, or may not, be available for the May election. As a result, many Clerks have informed us they would need to co-locate polling locations for this election, which will only increase the number of people gathered in any one location.”

“Due to these concerns, we see Idaho’s absentee voting process as a safer means to conduct this election under this declaration of emergency.”

In a press release from Secretary Denney:

REGARDLESS OF THE ELECTION DATE, THE SAFE VOTE IS AN ABSENTEE VOTE

In the weeks to come, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney and Idaho’s 44 county clerks will be promoting absentee voting for the Primary election through the #VoteEarlyIdaho campaign, which will include mailings to all registered Idaho voters informing them of the absentee process and timelines.

“Please do your part to help us keep you and your neighbors safe by requesting your absentee ballot today” says Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. “This will give our county clerks and their teams more time to respond to the increased volume of requests under the current conditions.”

In order to expedite the process for Idahoans to request their absentee ballot for the Primary election, the Secretary of State’s office has now made online absentee ballot requests available for those registered electors with an Idaho driver’s license or ID card.

“We only turned this on 48 hours ago, and in that short window of time over 4,000 registered voters have requested their absentee ballot,” says Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck. “As we begin to promote this opportunity more broadly in the coming days, we hope to see that number grow substantially.” Visit https://IdahoVotes.gov/vote-early-idaho to request your absentee ballot. Downloadable request forms are available for those without the requirements for the online system. Ballot request forms can also be obtained from county clerks offices and websites.

To help spread the word, the Idaho Secretary of State asks all Idahoans to share the campaign on social media using the hashtag #VoteEarlyIdaho, as well as to like and follow the Secretary of State on Facebook and Twitter (@IDSecOfState) in order to stay updated on changing elections information. Links and graphics to share #VoteEarlyIdaho can be found at https://idahovotes.gov/vote-early-tools/

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