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Eye On Boise

Final, official numbers confirm election-night tallies

The final numbers are in on Idaho’s May 20 primary election, and they’re virtually unchanged from the unofficial election-night totals. Results certified today by the state Board of Canvassers, which includes Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, center; state Controller Brandon Woolf, left; and state Treasurer Ron Crane, right; show just a 28-vote difference in the total number of votes cast for governor, coming in at 180,948, down just a hair from the election-night total of 180,976. No results changed.

Ysursa said he can remember when there were much bigger swings when the final, official numbers were tallied. Three decades ago, he had to call a legislative candidate to let him know that one county’s results had shifted by 500 votes because of a hand-written 3 that looked like an 8, moving that candidate from winner to loser.

“Like everything else, election-night reporting has become more accurate, more sophisticated,” Ysursa said. “That’s the way we want it. It makes the canvass pretty anti-climactic.” He added, “I commend the county clerks for their diligence. They do a pretty good job.”

One big source of swings long in the past was manual entry of the tallies of paper ballots. “It was just call in and write down,” Ysursa said. Now, most voting systems are automated, though 14 of Idaho’s 44 counties, among the smallest ones, still use paper ballots.

The final, official results show turnout statewide was just 26.12 percent of registered voters, falling slightly below Ysursa’s prediction of 27 percent. “I wish we could get some turnout figures in the 30s and 40s,” he said. The total number of people voting in the election overall was 196,982. “In 1972, we had a primary that turned out 205,000 voters,” Ysursa said.

 “Primaries are very, very important and we need to get more turnout in them,” he said. “All elections are important, but people need to understand the importance of these primaries.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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