Are you prepared to head to the polls Tuesday? Here's everything you need to know about the primary election - East Idaho News
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Are you prepared to head to the polls Tuesday? Here’s everything you need to know about the primary election

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IDAHO FALLS – Election offices throughout eastern Idaho are gearing up for the primary election, which begins Tuesday, May 21.

The polls will open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The team will be working late Tuesday to provide up-to-the minute numbers and the final outcome of all the races.

In a primary election, voters select a nominee from each party to be on the ballot in November. Whichever candidate wins in the primary will face the challenger from the other party in the general election.

Party affiliation affects who you’re able to vote for. Republican, Constitution and Libertarian parties have a closed primary, which means people registered to vote in these parties can only cast ballots for their party or vote Democratic or non-partisan.

Registered Democrats can only vote Democrat or non-partisan. Unaffiliated voters may affiliate with a political party on election day. The flyer below breaks it down.

Courtesy Idaho Secretary of State’s Office

Idaho held a Republican presidential caucus in March, where Donald Trump was selected as the Republican nominee. He will square off with President Joe Biden in November. Although Biden is already the Democratic nominee, Idaho’s Democratic Party will caucus for their candidate on May 23.

RELATED | Donald Trump or Nikki Haley? How Idaho Republicans voted in the presidential caucus

Low voter turnout is an ongoing issue. During the March presidential caucus, Idaho Capital Sun reported a mere 6.8% of Idaho’s 585,000 registered Republicans participated.

RELATED | About 93% of Idaho’s registered Republicans didn’t vote in GOP presidential caucus

Part of that may have to do with the fact that it was a caucus and not a primary. The caucus only gave voters a 90-minute window to vote in person. There was no option for early or absentee voting.

Primary elections run by the state give voters more options. Turnout for the 2020 presidential primary election was 25.8%, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

Despite the low voter turnout in March, Bonneville County Elections Supervisor Helena Welling tells voter turnout is typically higher during a presidential election year.

Although presidential candidates will not be on the ballot Tuesday, Welling is anticipating a larger turnout at the polls.

“For primary elections, we normally anticipate about 30% turnout — sometimes it’s in the low 20s. But because there are so many contested races in this primary election, we do anticipate more participation,” Welling says.

Of the 3,107 absentee ballots that were sent out in Bonneville County, 2,300 have been returned. That’s slightly higher than the 2022 primary election when 2,002 absentee ballots were returned. Absentee ballots must be returned by Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Early voting turnout in Bonneville County is slightly lower, however. A total of 1,194 people have voted early in the 2024 primary, compared to 1,779 people during the 2022 primary.

Are you prepared and informed to head to the polls? If not, here’s a list of everything you need to know, including how to register, where your polling place is and what’s on the ballot.

How to register

Those who aren’t registered to vote can register at the polling place on election day. Several items are needed when you register. One of them is a current photo ID, which can include any of the following:

  • Idaho Driver’s License
  • Idaho Identification Card
  • Passport or Federal ID
  • Tribal ID Card
  • Concealed Weapons License issued by a county sheriff in Idaho

A proof of residence is also required if a current address is not included on the ID. Check the Idaho Secretary of State’s website to see if you’re registered at your current address.

Where do I go to vote?

Click here to find out where your polling place is.

What’s on the ballot?

There are more than 60 contested county and legislative races in eastern Idaho this election. has provided extensive coverage of individual races over the last month. Catch up on who’s running in your district and county here.

Election results will be tabulated and reported on the Secretary of State’s website, as well as your local county’s website. Be sure to visit our homepage after 8 p.m. Tuesday for complete election coverage.