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A record number of voters cast ballots in Tuesday's general election, activated by a hotly contested U.S. Senate race that they turned into a cakewalk for the incumbent. Unofficial final returns indicated that 507,000 people voted, some 15,000 more than in 1992 when the old record was set.
Encouraged by rejection of the latest One Percent Initiative, Gov. Phil Batt says he will work on changes in Idaho tax policy in the next session of the Legislature. Although he didn't go into specifics, the governor said Wednesday he will work with legislators on some way to curb the rapid growth in property taxes in some areas.
The message and the messenger. Ellen Craswell greets supporters Tuesday night. She began a vacation Wednesday. Photo by Associated Press
Exit pollsters began trying Wednesday to learn why a voter survey in New Hampshire had overstated Democratic support so badly that news organizations declared Republican Sen. Bob Smith the loser in his re-election bid - a call the actual vote proved wrong. "I guess you could say I've been to hell and back in one night," Smith said early Wednesday at his victory celebration in Manchester, N.H. Officials at Voter News Service, which conducted the survey, said they suspect that Republican voters refused more often than Democrats to participate in the New Hampshire exit poll. No similar problem was evident in more than 110 other races covered by the news service's exit polls Tuesday, all of them projected correctly, including the presidential contest in every state. The Associated Press and its partners in the news service - ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox proclaimed Democrat Dick Swett the winner over Smith when polls closed in New Hampshire, based on exit poll interviews with 2,355 voters in 25 precincts statewide. But official results gave Smith 49 percent and Swett 46 percent, with Ken Blevens of the Libertarian Party polling 5 percent.
About the only people in California who couldn't score pot - the crippled, sick and dying - now have legal access to it. Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative, passed by a 60-40 vote. People who can benefit from marijuana because they suffer from AIDS, cancer, arthritis, migraines or other illnesses now will be able to grow or buy it.
Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend said Wednesday he'll respect the county's overwhelming support for a medical examiner. "We're just going to comply with anything the voters want," Amend said in a telephone interview.
Mainstream Republicans scored a resounding victory Tuesday in their battle against religious conservatives for control of the party in Stevens County. Among 42 precinct committee officer candidates on the mainstream slate, 36 were leading their races in final unofficial returns Wednesday, nine were trailing and one was tied.
An exhausted Jeff Crouch, winner of the race for Latah County sheriff, said Wednesday he's glad the bitter race is over. "I haven't slept too much in the last two days," said Crouch, a Moscow police officer. He'll take over for outgoing sheriff Joe Overstreet in January.
Quarter slot machines are a big lure at the Two Rivers Casino on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Photo by Christopher Anderson/The Spokesman-Review
Republican incumbents were winners in the three 4th District legislative races. Sen. Bob McCaslin and Reps. Larry Crouse and Mark Sterk, all GOP candidates, were re-elected Tuesday by wide margins. In the closest race, McCaslin collected 53.7 percent of the votes on his way to defeating challenger George Orr, a Democrat, for the 4th District's Senate seat.
About 49 percent of the nation's voting-age population went to the polls Tuesday, the lowest level for a presidential election since 1924, according to Voter News Service, a consortium of six major news organizations which provides exit-poll information. Several hundred thousand uncounted absentee ballots eventually could lift the national tally beyond 50.3 percent, the turnout in 1988.
With male voters split virtually evenly between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, women voters' strong preference for the incumbent Democrat propelled him to a second term. National exit polls showed 54 percent of women had voted for Clinton, while 38 percent chose Dole. Men gave a slight edge to Dole, 44 percent to 43 percent. The nationwide surveys, conducted by Voter News Service, a partnership of five television networks and The Associated Press, revealed an even stronger preference for Clinton among working women, who favored Clinton over Dole 57 percent to 34 percent. "It looks as if women once again provided the margin of victory for Bill Clinton," said Irene Natividad, who chairs Women's Vote Project '96, a non-partisan voter-outreach coalition made up of 110 women's groups.
Democrat Brian Baird acknowledges supporters Tuesday night at the Clark County Democratic headquarters in Vancouver. Photo by Associated Press
Please, don't utter the words "mandate," "split government," or "exit poll" too loudly to me right now. I am suffering from an election-coverage hangover. You would be, too, if you had just channel-surfed for eight solid hours through the local and national election broadcasts on Tuesday night.
Unless the Idaho Legislature steps in quickly, the Idaho Democrat will go the way of the dodo. On Tuesday, the number of Democrats dwindled from eight to a precarious five in the 35-seat Senate and from 13 to 11 in the 70-seat House. In blue-collar North Idaho, only two of 12 legislators will have a "D" after their names in January, including veteran Rep. Jim Stoicheff of Bonner County who ran unopposed. No one wants to see the Democrats become extinct. Republicans need to keep a couple of them around - to taunt, if nothing else. Maybe Republican Gov. Phil Batt should seek endangered-species status for them. Then, a small herd of Democrats could be managed back to sustainable levels. The state could establish a political refuge camp for them in compatible Shoshone County so schoolchildren could study them on field trips. If the D's can survive until 2002, when incumbent R's face term limits for the first time, they may have a chance to grab a few seats. Otherwise, they'd better start listening to Rush and running for office as Republicans. Don't expect kinder, gentler Rankin A theory was going around Wednesday that Ron Rankin would agree not to cause waves now that he's won a seat on the all-Republican Kootenai County commission. Hahaha. Some of you guys out there will believe anything. Rankin proved he's not going to be a Rodney-King-why-can't-we-all-just-get-along guy on Wednesday when he announced his first order of business. He plans to ask his new playmates, Dick Compton and Dick Panabaker, for copies of all correspondence on county stationery mailed from their office in the months ahead. That'll enable him to get up to speed on county business - and to keep an eye on his co-workers. You won't see any more courthouse business going on behind closed doors. I hope King Richard I and Richard II have their seat belts buckled. The ride ahead is going to be bumpy.
(From For the Record, November 8, 1996:) Joe Blackburn, a Republican, won the Benewah County sheriff's race with 2,054 votes. His opponents, Edgar Ashton and incumbent Democrat Rodney Thormahlen, received 130 and 1,693 votes respectively. The number of votes were inaccurately reported in Thursday's newspaper.
A shift to the right. "Our message of the importance of dissent and checks and balances doesn't seem to catch fire with the electorate," says Mary Lou Reed, who lost her state Senate seat. Photo by Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review
"I have a mandate," says Ron Rankin, "though I don't know what for."
Idaho voters turned down three of the four initiatives on Tuesday's election ballot, but opted for a new approach toward imposing term limits on federal officials. In complete unofficial returns, the term limit initiative won by more than 55,000 votes. The measure was pushed by the Hayden Lake-based Citizens for Term Limits, and seeks to put pressure on legislators and members of Congress to enact term limits.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott