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Idaho Gov. Brad Little orders state primary election by mail

Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Monday the state’s primary election will be conducted as scheduled on May 19.

But with Idaho’s stay-at-home order in effect, the state decided the election would be conducted by mail pursuant to the existing laws for absentee voting due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The release stated the move was necessary after it “became clear that sufficient polling places and poll workers could not be obtained” for the election.

Some larger counties in Idaho need hundreds of poll workers spread across multiple dozens of polling places to conduct an election.

The governor’s office will work with the attorney general and the clerks of Idaho’s 44 counties to refine the absentee voting process for these unique circumstances, including setting new deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot and returning the ballot.

Currently, according to the Kootenai County elections information website, voting registration closes on April 24 and absentee ballots must be requested by May 8.

“While the coronavirus situation may change how we practice our right to vote in this primary election, it is important to keep our election dates in place,” Gov. Little said in the statement. “I urge all voting Idahoans to request their absentee ballots as soon as possible so they can vote from home this year.”

“Voting absentee is the right thing to do under these circumstances, and my office has already set up a website that allows Idaho voters to register and request an absentee ballot,” Denney said.

The purpose of primary elections in Idaho is to allow members of a recognized political party to select that party’s nominee to go on the general election ballot.

Party affiliation is required for the May election and affects what ballot voters receive.

Ballots for the May election in Kootenai County include candidates for U.S. Senator, Idaho First District representative, state senate and representative seats, county commissioner seats, county prosecutor, county sheriff and precinct committee seats.