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Counties Frustrated With Double-envelope Early Voting System

Counties Frustrated With Double-envelope Early Voting System

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TWIN FALLS • Everyone who showed up for in-person early voting received the same instructions:Stuff your folded ballot in the small envelope, then stick the small envelope in the larger envelope.

That caused confusion for some early voters and extra cost for counties. A push to change the law failed in the 2012 legislative session, but some county clerks are hoping to resurrect the effort.

State law mandates that all absentee ballots have two envelopes.

During the last legislative session, the Secretary ofState’s office proposed a bill that, among other things, would have allowed in-person early voters to simply put their ballots in a box .

That bill didn’t make it out of the House State Affairs Committee, because not all the legislators were confident in the counties’ abilities to securely handle the early ballots, said Deputy Secretary Tim Hurst.

But the double-envelope system is unnecessary and a hassle, said Twin Falls County ClerkKristina Glascock.

On Nov. 5, the day before the general election, 20 county employees spent more than three hours pulling the ballots out of the two envelopes, Glascock said. They also had to flatten the folded ballots so they would go through the machine.

The process is an additional cost. This election, TwinFalls County paid 50 cents per ballot for the envelopes. With 4,892 people voting early for the general election, that adds up to $2,446 in envelopes alone. (That number doesn’t include the ballots that were mailed out.)

For other counties, the cost is even greater. Ada County had nearly 20,000 early in-person ballots.

Even smaller counties get frustrated with the double envelopes.

“It’s quite a chore to have to go through,” said Jackie Fuqua, elections clerk for Gooding County. “And a lot of times people wouldn’t understand.”

Hurst said he isn’t sure if the Secretary ofState’s office will introduce the bill again this session.

But Glascock said she still hopes the law will change.

“It just adds to the complication of voting,”she said.


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