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Idaho sees highest voter turnout during a primary in more than 30 years

East Idaho Elects

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IDAHO FALLS — Not everyone who requested absentee ballots voted or returned them in time to be counted, but Idaho still saw the highest voter participation at least 30 years.

Of Idaho’s 853,301 registered voters 328,499 voted in this year’s primary election, that’s more than 38%. The last time voter turnout came close to that in a primary election was in 1980 with just under 31%, according to historical data. And eastern Idaho’s voter turnout isn’t far behind.

Eastern Idaho has 194,725 eligible voters in the following counties: Jefferson, Madison, Teton, Fremont, Clark, Butte, Custer, Lemhi, Bonneville, Bingham, Power, Oneida, Bannock, Franklin, Bear Lake and Caribou.

By June 2, more than 37% had returned their ballot, which means around 70,000 people voted (numbers are not exact as Caribou county’s voter numbers were unavailable Thursday).

This also means that roughly 15,000 people who requested absentee ballots either didn’t return them or returned them, but not in time to be counted.

More than five counties in this area of the state had over a 50% voter turnout: Fremont, Custer, Lemhi, Butte and Franklin. All of those counties are primarily rural with smaller populations. More urban counties with larger populations tended to have a lower voter turnout rate.

Butte County had the highest voter turnout with more than 57% of their 1,440 eligible voters returning their ballots. Bannock County had the lowest turnout with only around 28% of its 43,000 voters.

While Bannock County may have had the lowest turnout in eastern Idaho, it was still higher than the average for primary elections which ranges between 15% and 20%.

The last non-gubernatorial primary election was 2016. Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said in a previous interview there were roughly 176,000 total votes cast statewide in that election.

With more than 328,000 votes cast, the 2020 primary saw a roughly 86% increase in voter turnout.

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