Idaho's first-ever closed primary off to slow start, Ysursa predicts record-low turnout

UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.

Turnout lagged at two large precincts in West Boise, where voters cast ballots at Ustick Baptist Church on McMillan Road.

With two hours until polls close at 8 p.m., turnout was 10.4 percent of about 3,850 registered voters.

A handful of citizens complained about the new law requiring voters to declare their party affiliation, but most took the change in stride, said chief judge Katie MacDonald.

"We've had a couple that were offended," MacDonald said. "They don't want to out themselves. But it's not what we expected."

GOP voters were drawn to two hotly contested House races in Legislative District 20, but some also considered protecting the delegates won by Mitt Romney for the presidential race a top priority.

Dave Tuttle said he thinks Romney is far more likely to unseat President Obama than Ron Paul. Some Paul supporters are working to overturn the results of the March GOP caucus, which awarded all 32 Idaho delegates to Romney.

Tuttle said he voted for Romney loyalist Peggy Moyer for precinct committeewoman over Daniel Malloy.

"Ron Paul has some great ideas, but I don't want to see Barack Obama again as president," Tuttle said.


Election officials are reporting unusually slow turnout, with Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa predicting the new closed primary will prompt the lowest voter participation in history.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I’m predicting 23 percent,” Ysursa said about 3 p.m. Tuesday, with five hours left in the voting day. “Turnouts are made between 5 (o’clock) and 8 o’clock, so we’ll see.”

The record low turnout for a primary was in 1988, when 25.03 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

“I personally believe the main reason will be the angst and reluctance to declare a party,” said Ysursa, a Republican who has helped administer Idaho elections since 1975.

Idahoans are now required to affiliate with the GOP to vote in the primary, thanks to the Idaho Republican Party’s winning a lawsuit in federal court, which convinced a reluctant Legislature to change the law last year.

The decision to close the primary is up to Idaho’s four political parties, Republican, Democrat, Constitution and Libertarian. Democrats left their primary open to members of other parties and independents, but have few contests on the ballot outside of Boise’s District 19. Which party voters affiliated with and voted for is a public record in Idaho for the first time.

Turnout was 27.07 percent in the 2010 primary. The high mark was set in 1980, when 43.34 percent of registrants voted on a ballot that included Ronald Reagan for president and the historic Steve Symms-Frank Church U.S. Senate race.

Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane said he and Clerk Chris Rich toured eight or nine of the county's 145 precincts this morning and afternoon.

“Consistently, turnout was slow,” McGrane said. “I honestly don’t know why. Perhaps people just aren’t happy with the closed primary and don’t want to participate.”

McGrane added that voters are reasonably well acquainted with the new rules. “They may not like the process, they may complain, but they are informed voters and understand the new process.”

McGrane attributed that to efforts by Ysursa’s office, county clerks and the media to inform voters of the new requirements.

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If the process wasn't

If the process wasn't tedious, antiquated and fair turnout would be much higher. Why we still vote by paper ballot is beyond me... you can conduct monetary transfers, apply for government jobs, programs and benefits online, but you can't vote...??? And anyone in Idaho voting outside the Republican party is pretty much wasting their time...

Wasting our time?

In my community we're are also voting on a school bond and funding to keep our fire department operating. It gripes the H out of me to have to declare a party affiliation in order to vote on my local issues. All because of more s-tu-pidi-ty by the Republicans.

At least by paper there is a

At least by paper there is a record. Electronic voting is about as safe and reliable as Kim Jong Il.

I'm a traitor, right?

So, if I vote in the democratic primary, even though it's open to all, and since there is a public record of my voting in the democratic primary, that makes me a traitor, right?

I'll request War Pigs for ya, Bertie


It you go online and yell FAQ YOU TOO

You are cut off at the well son.

You think?

"Perhaps people just aren’t happy with the closed primary and don’t want to participate.”


If this was Uganda the US would be claiming election fraud, and rightly so (no pun intended).

IF this were Uganda...

People would be rounded and executed by shadow armies?


It you go online and yell FAQ YOU TOO

You are cut off at the well son.

Or perhaps...

it's just that more & more people simply no longer trust any of you elected officials because the majority of you are out to pad your own pockets with whatever you can screw the rest of us out of.

Bigger things at stake

I'm disgusted by the closed primary, but I voted anyway because I'm hoping for some changes in my county's commissioners. I would much rather tell the world my party affiliation than have to endure another term with these clowns wasting money on gazebos and treating county employees in a way that would cost any other professional their job.

So we get to vote for a turd

So we get to vote for a turd sandwich or a giant douche ,sounds like a fun voting day!

Empty poll

I showed up at my polling place at around 10 AM. The place was deserted. I was the only one voting at that time.

Did people even realize they were registering as Republicans?

At my polling place, it was not explained at all. They just asked which ballot you wanted. Something tells me there are a whole lot of newly registered members of the GOP that didn't even know they signed up.

Lowest turnout ever? The GOP leadership must be so proud.

Mission accomplished.

Here in Oregon

we receive our ballots in the mail, take our time filling them out and then either put them in the mail or drop them off at a ballot collection point on the day they are due. I can't ever imagine going to a precinct office again.

Making it as difficult as possible!

A ballot where you have to publicly declare a party affiliation; mistakes in some polling places and ballots and poorly trained poll workers who don't let you vote when your photo ID (driver's license) address isn't the same as the voting address they have in their Holy Book. Life in a red state...ah few get to make so many decisions for us all.