Eye On Boise

SUNDAY, AUG. 23, 2009, 7:09 A.M.

A step toward vote by mail…

Here's a link to my full story on the vote-by-mail initiative that's in the works, not for the 2010 election, but for the 2012 one. It's the first Idaho ballot initiative to launch a signature drive with such a long time frame. If enacted, it would be a relatively modest step, simply allowing voters to request permanent absentee ballot status, rather than having to make a new request every election like they do now. At least four states, including Washington, allow voters to file no-excuses, permanent absentee ballot requests, and absentee voting has been gaining popularity both nationwide and in Idaho. In the 2008 election, 29.5 percent of Idaho's votes were cast by absentee ballot, and the numbers were higher in Kootenai County - 35.4 percent - and Ada County, the state's largest population center, at 43.5 percent.

Though the permanent-absentee idea was backed by all of Idaho's county clerks and the secretary of state's office, the Idaho Legislature has refused to consider it. The state's highest percentage of absentee voting came in rural Teton County, which hit 50.8 percent in 2008.

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