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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

A tide of Idaho voters want vote-by-mail

Idaho state leaders remain dubious of switching to a vote-by-mail system for elections, as Washington and Oregon have done. But voters in Idaho are growing more comfortable with the concept of voting at their own pace, away from the polls, as a steadily increasing share of them embrace absentee voting, writes S-R reporter Scott Maben.

In the general election four years ago, 32 percent of the votes cast in Kootenai County were by absentee ballot. The county elections office again is seeing a surge of requests to vote that way in this presidential election.

“Our first mail-out this time was a record,” said Carrie Phillips, the county’s elections manager. That initial batch last month contained 6,670 absentee ballots, or more than three times the first batch sent out for the November 2012 election.

Since Sept. 21, the county has mailed about 8,400 ballots, which represents 11 percent of registered voters. On average, 200 more ballots go in the mail each day – more than twice the rate as in 2012. Almost 350 were mailed out Thursday alone.

The Idaho Legislature has adamantly opposed vote-by-mail, and among the opponents is former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is now secretary of state overseeing state elections. When he launched his campaign for that office three years ago, Denney said, “Sure, vote by mail is easier and it’s cheaper, but we cannot protect the integrity of the ballot.”

With the way ballots are tracked today, it’s rare to have any indication of voter fraud, local elections officials say. You can read Maben’s full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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