September 13, 2008 in Voices

Beware of phone voter registration

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer
 

BOISE – With the election nearing and campaigns heating up, some Idaho voters have started getting calls from what sound like helpful folks offering to get them registered to vote – but there’s a problem. Idaho doesn’t do voter registration by phone.

Instead, the calls may be an identity-theft scam.

The callers – who have made calls to multiple states including Idaho – ask the prospective voters for personal information, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other information, and say they’ll use it for voter registration.

“We’re just warning people that we don’t do it over the phone, and you don’t give your Social Security number to anybody,” said Tim Hurst, deputy Idaho Secretary of State.

It’s actually pretty easy to register to vote in Idaho. You can go to your local county clerk’s office. You can download a voter registration card from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Web site, www.idahovotes.gov, fill it out and mail it in. Or you can even register at the polls on Election Day with Idaho’s same-day registration; just bring both a photo I.D. and proof of your address, such as a utility bill in your name.

Hurst said this is the first time he’s heard of such calls targeting Idaho voters, and they come at a time when interest in the election is soaring. The Secretary of State’s office has posted a “fraud alert” on its election Web sites, warning, “Our office has been alerted that some people have received telephone calls offering to register them to vote over the telephone. The caller requests personal information, including your social security number. Idaho does not allow voter registration by telephone. These are not legitimate phone calls. Do not provide any personal information to these callers.”

Poll: 23 percent still undecided

Idaho pollster Greg Smith has released a poll in the Senate race showing 23 percent still undecided statewide if the election were held now, Republican Jim Risch getting 41 percent and Democrat Larry LaRocco 29 percent, and independent Rammell trailing at 3 percent. In North Idaho, the poll showed 28.6 percent undecided, Risch leading LaRocco 38-24, and Rammell with 5 percent.

The race also includes Libertarian Kent Marmon and independent “Pro-Life,” formerly known as Marvin Richardson. Smith said his poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

A green campus with blue turf?

Boise State University has one of the smallest per-capita carbon footprints of higher education institutions across the country, according to a recent report cataloguing BSU’s greenhouse gas emissions due to campus operations over the past five years.

The report, by BSU’s Office of Energy Research, Policy and Campus Sustainability, found that BSU emits 2.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide for each person – student, staff or faculty – on campus each year. That compares to 25.1 metric tons at Yale University, and 11 metric tons at Penn State, University of Illinois at Chicago and Harvard University. Only Tufts University reports a lower figure, 2.2 metric tons.

Why does Boise State compare so well? The report cited the size and square footage of campus buildings compared to the number of students; ongoing improvements on campus to lower energy consumption; and Boise’s relatively mild climate, with the harshest weather conditions occurring in summer when campus buildings are used less.

The report did find, however, that emissions have been growing 3 percent a year, which is roughly the university’s growth rate. “Our first priority should be to eliminate the rate of increase,” said BSU Associate VP John Gardner. “As we refurbish our older buildings and create new indoor spaces on campus, we will keep our goal to become climate-neutral in clear focus.”

Pro-Life: ‘Not a one-issue candidate’

The Idaho U.S. Senate candidate who legally changed his name to Pro-Life says he’s not a single-issue candidate. “That’s the real falsehood, that I’m a one-issue candidate – I’m not,” he told Eye on Boise. “I’ll take on any issue. I try to determine what the truth is.”

As an example, Pro-Life noted that while he and his family usually go out on the streets with signs each week to protest abortion, in the past week they’ve been protesting at McDonald’s restaurants “holding signs that said ‘McDonalds is pro-gay.’ ”

The candidate said he’s objecting to McDonald’s corporate policies supportive of gay and lesbian employees. “We were at six McDonald’s last week,” he said. He said he’s also against the war in Iraq, because, “Unjust war is murder and this is an unconstitutional war and we shouldn’t be over there.”

Protesting abortion and other issues, he said, is “just what we do every day. And if we didn’t live so far out in the country, I’d like to have a house on a busy street – I’d just be out in front of my house holding my sign.”

Four thousand apply for 160 jobs

Here’s how bad Idaho’s employment outlook has turned: A new Costco store opening in Pocatello advertised for 160 new employees, and got 4,000 applications.

Idaho’s unemployment rate jumped sharply in August, raising more concerns about the economy. “Although the state labor force has grown substantially in the past two decades, more Idaho workers were off the job in August – 34,600 – than during any other month since August 1987 when the state was finally pulling out of the near-depression of the mid-1980s,” reported Bob Fick of the Idaho Department of Labor.

“Another 3,700 people joined the unemployment rolls in August, bringing to 14,400 the additional number workers without jobs since the year began. Through August, the number of weekly unemployment checks issued by the state was nearly 50 percent higher than for the first eight months of 2007.”

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or bzrussell@gmail.com. For more news from Boise go to www.spokesmanreview. com/boise.


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