BOISE — For the first time in history, more than a million people are registered to vote in Idaho.
And in the state’s two largest counties, it appears that more voters are going to vote absentee than ever before in a presidential election.
Chad Houck, chief deputy secretary of state, told the Statesman on Wednesday that 1,004,449 voters were registered in the state, the most ever. The deadline to register was Friday, though voters can register at early voting locations or the polls on Election Day.
Of those voters, 407,616, a little more than 40%, had requested absentee (or mailed) ballots. And of those, just over 128,000, or 31%, had already been returned. That number will likely grow still: Requests for absentee ballots can still be made through Friday, Oct. 23.
In Canyon and Ada counties, county clerks are sending out more absentee ballots than ever before.
Joe Decker, Canyon County spokesperson, said the county has already sent out 42,100 absentee ballots and received about 13,000 back. With Election Day still almost three weeks away, that number is approaching the 2016 presidential election total, when Canyon County saw 16,346 total absentee ballots cast.
“We are prepared to send out 55,000 (absentee ballots), but we’re unsure what the final number will be, since folks have until Oct. 23 to request them,” Decker said in an email.
Ada County voters have requested 144,635 ballots as of Wednesday, said Chelsea Carattini, spokesperson for the Ada County Elections Office, with 39,544 returned. That surpasses the total requested for the 2016 presidential election, when 26,968 absentee ballots were issued and 22,856 were returned.
Carattini said Ada County expects to see close to 150,000 absentee ballot requests.
That’s higher than the May primary, which was entirely by absentee ballot because of concerns about coronavirus. Ada County issued just over 123,000 ballots for that election.