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Nearly one-third of Idaho voters cast ballots in May primary

UPDATED: Wed., June 1, 2022

Leslie Hayes votes in the state's primary election with her twin daughters Adelayde and Zoey, 7, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at Ada County Precinct 1909 at Shadow Hills Elementary in Boise, Idaho.  (Darin Oswald)
Leslie Hayes votes in the state's primary election with her twin daughters Adelayde and Zoey, 7, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at Ada County Precinct 1909 at Shadow Hills Elementary in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald)
Associated Press

BOISE — Just under a third of Idaho’s registered voters cast ballots in the May 17 primary election, nearly matching the percentage that voted in the 2018 primary.

Including new election-day voter registrations, 32.4% of registered voters cast ballots in the 2022 primary, the Idaho Press reported. That compares to 32.6% of registered voters who participated in the 2018 primary.

In both of those primaries, there were hotly contested races for governor. Gubernatorial races normally guide turnout numbers, said former longtime Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa.

“If you get a third, 33%, that’d be a great turnout. That’s a sad commentary on our process,” Ysursa said, “especially when the whole ballgame’s in the primary.”

Idaho is a strongly Republican state, and so the primary election is generally a strong predictor of the general election outcomes.

Voter turnout in the state’s primary has been stagnant or declining for years since peaking in 1972 with more than 58% of registered voters casting ballots. Turnout was high that year because it was the first time residents between the ages of 18 and 20 were allowed to vote.

“That was a big deal,” said Andy Brunelle, a retired Forest Service employee who worked for the state and tracked voter turnout as an editor for the Idaho Blue Book for many years, starting in the late 1970s. “It was the highest ever for where I have data.”

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