November 8, 2006 in Idaho

Numbers heavier than expected

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – Voter turnout appeared to be heavier than expected in Idaho on Tuesday, county clerks said, causing some problems with voting supplies and long lines in some areas.

“We’ve had a lot of precincts call and I think they’ve just had more people out,” said Nancy Chandler, a deputy clerk for Madison County in eastern Idaho.

At least five precincts in that county ran out of secrecy sleeves but officials substituted manila envelopes and voting continued.

Voters in Meridian, a heavily populated suburb outside of Boise in southwest Idaho, had to wait as long as three hours, with reports of some voters giving up and leaving.

In Boundary County, Deputy Recorder Chris Peterson said voting went smoothly.

“It’s been pretty busy,” she said. “Especially with all the initiatives that are on the ballot.”

In Bonneville County in southeastern Idaho, Chief Election Judge Bobbie Jockumsen said they saw good turnout as well.

“For a nonpresidential election, yes,” she said, adding ballot measures seemed to be drawing voters out. “Anytime they ask about taxes it does, and that one about marriage (between a man and a woman) probably also.”

Propositions that seek to boost state spending on education and restrict local government’s say in land-use decisions were being decided, and another referendum would write a ban on gay marriage and civil unions into the state constitution.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa predicted a 63 percent turnout for Tuesday’s election, the highest in a nonpresidential election year since 1994, when 67 percent of Idaho registered voters cast ballots in a GOP landslide.

“Competitive races make for good turnout,” Ysursa said Monday.

Since 1994, Republicans have dominated state politics, capturing the governorship, both congressional seats and most statewide offices. The races appeared tighter this year.

“We compare it to ‘94 on the basis of all the open seats,” Ysursa said. “The national scene could permeate here, but we look at Idaho. Idaho voters tend to stick to Idaho issues.”

Madison County Clerk Marilyn Rassmussen said a larger number of absentee ballots also indicated that more people would vote this year.

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