A two-page, double-sided ballot, strong turnout and new polling places will make for late returns in Idaho's largest county, says Clerk Chris Rich.
Rich predicts final results will be available between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. Wednesday Nov. 7, the day after the election. Among the races that may be hanging in the balance: Propositions 1, 2 and 3, and legislative contests in Southeast and West Boise.
Early voting has been brisk, Rich said, with over 800 votes cast at the county's Benjamin Street office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Rich predicts turnout between 75 percent and 80 percent of registered voters, in the same range Secretary of State Ben Ysursa predicts statewide.
Absentee and early-cast ballots will be opened Nov. 5 at 8 a.m., and be laid out flat to smooth their way through counting machines, Rich said. But the law prevents counting until Election Day. Also, Rich said, pollworkers must be sure the two-page ballots are in order before leaving precincts. That could mean some not arriving at Benjamin Street until midnight, he said.
Rich is concerned the lengthy ballot could mean lines on Election Day. Observing early voters, Rich said the range of time it takes them to vote is 2 minutes to 21 minutes. "If it averages seven minutes or more, that scares the heck out of me," Rich said.
The clerk is resending corrected postcards with voting information to 3,800 households in West Boise, Rich said, because maps showing polling places were incorrect.
"Printing errors do happen," Rich said, joking that he has a copy of a card showing his former boss, former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig registered as a Democrat.
Rich said Craig confronted him with the card at the March 6 GOP presidential caucus. "I was trying to crawl under a rock."