Amid the changing landscape of stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, county clerks across Idaho have been faced with the many challenges of preparing for and ultimately conducting the May 19 Primary. March 30 found us impatiently drumming our fingers as we awaited a decision from the Governor. Would the election be delayed? Would it be all absentee? Would we be required to try to staff polling locations for election day voting? Would we have all of the answers to the many questions that are tied to overseeing an election that the public doesn’t necessarily know about, such as the various deadlines?
The announcement from Governor Little opened a floodgate of other questions, especially about those deadlines. We received questions almost immediately, but had no answers. This is very frustrating for everyone, including us.
The reality is, elections are complicated.
It took several days of looking at all of the details for the directives to come together. Governor Little issued a proclamation on April 1 to address how the upcoming election will be conducted. Hopefully, these questions and answers will help guide you through these uncharted waters.
How do I request an absentee ballot? All registered voters in Idaho County have been sent a letter and absentee ballot request form. The form should be completed and returned by either 1. US Mail to: Idaho County Elections, 320 W Main Street Rm 5, Grangeville, ID 83530; or 2. Scan and email to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com; or 3. Fax to 208-983-1428.
What if I live in a ‘mail-out’ precinct? Registered voters in the Big Butte, Joseph, Lowell, Slate Creek 1 and Slate Creek 2 precincts, due to their small numbers, are in ‘mail-out’ precincts. These voters do not need to request an absentee ballot, as their ballots are automatically mailed pursuant to Idaho Code.
What if I’m not registered to vote? Please call our office at 208-983-2751 and we will send you a voter registration card and absentee ballot request to complete. Or, you can register online and request an absentee ballot at www.idahovotes.gov . Please understand that this website is getting a lot of traffic, and you may experience some delay in completing the online process.
How long do I have to get my absentee request in? The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is 8 p.m. on May 19. This means we must have it in our office by that date/time. A postmark of May 19 will not suffice. This is a deadline change due to the state of emergency we are currently operating under.
When must my ballot be received in order to be counted? The ballot must be received in our office no later than 8 p.m. on June 2. This is a deadline change due to the state of emergency we are currently operating under.
How do I change my party affiliation? Only ‘unaffiliated’ voters have an option of changing or affiliating with a political party at this point. The deadline for changing from one party to another was March 13. Unaffiliated voters can affiliate online at the Idaho Votes website or contact the elections office at 208-983-2751 and we will send out a form for you to complete and return.
When will we know the election results? Election results will be reported no sooner than 9 p.m. on June 2. We anticipate that we will have our results complete shortly thereafter, within two or three hours of the earliest posting authorization.
Please be patient as we operate under new guidelines and challenging circumstances.