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Voters: 'Democracy only works if people participate'

Tuesday’s election in the Treasure Valley saw strong turnout at the polls without too long of wait times that would typically accompany it. That’s because so many people voted early or by absentee ballot in the 2020 general election, whether to avoid coronavirus exposure or because it was easier to vote ahead of Election Day, although lines grew progressively longer into the evening.

“We definitely had some lines, but not too long, first thing in the morning,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane told the Idaho Press Tuesday afternoon. “We saw really impressive turnout in those first couple hours; really, we’ve had a steady flow all day long. Sometimes the lines have been deceiving because with people social distancing a line can look a lot longer than it normally would be.”

Ada County issued nearly 200,000 absentee ballots ahead of the November election, with more than 92% of those ballots returned as of Tuesday evening ahead of the 8 p.m. deadline. Canyon County issued over 42,000 absentee ballots ahead of Election Day, about 73% of those ballots were returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

In Ada County, a total of 262,806 ballots were cast for a registered voter turnout of 87.8%, on par with turnout in the 2016 presidential election.

Canyon County and statewide turnout numbers were not available at press time. Nationwide, more than 100 million early votes were cast by mail or in person — more than two-thirds of the total number of votes cast in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center report Tuesday.

Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck on Tuesday night said some of Idaho’s most populous counties surpassed 2016 voter participation rates. Nearly 650,000 Idahoans voted in the presidential race with 31 of Idaho’s 44 counties fully or partially reporting election results at midnight.

At the Ada County Elections Office, one of five places Ada residents could drop off absentee ballots, far more people appeared to be voting absentee than in-person. Poll workers stood by ensuring voters had signed their ballot envelopes before dropping them in a mailbox, which was emptied every hour.

Ethan Mainini, of Boise delivered his ballot to the Ada County Elections Office Tuesday afternoon. Mainini said he preferred to drop off his ballot due to concerns about the security of mail-in ballots.

A Lewiston native, Mainini said he grew up in a family of primarily Republicans, but he cast a ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden, favoring his views on environmental policy and his tendency to “listen to the right people,” such as experts, on complex issues.

“We just really need to preserve stuff for our children, our children’s children,” Mainini said of his stance on the environment.

Cambria Greenup of Boise brought her young son, Mayan Harper, to the Ada County Elections Office, where she dropped off her absentee ballot Tuesday. Greenup said it’s important for her son to experience an election.

“It’s our right and it’s important,” she said. “Democracy only works if people participate.”

Greenup said she would normally vote in person, but she preferred the absentee option to avoid risk of coronavirus exposure at the polls. The absentee ballot turned out to be beneficial for more than one reason: It allowed her to research candidates while voting.

“I got to research all the magistrates and everything and find out about the down-ballot (candidates) because I had it at home to look up everything,” Greenup said. “I actually cared about things because I could look into articles on how people ruled in different areas. I never thought I’d care about the magistrates because in the past I never (knew) their record.”

In Canyon County, Misael Coss, a Nampa resident, voted for the first time at the Hispanic Cultural Center. He cast his vote for Joe Biden. He said the push on social media for people to register and to show up to vote, was the major reason he cast his vote Tuesday morning.

Coss identifies as Latino and said Biden seemed like the better of the two options when it comes to addressing the needs of his “people,” he said. Though, Coss said he knows many other Latinos who would be voting for Donald Trump this election.

Rachel Wilson is one of those Trump voters. She cast her ballot late Tuesday afternoon at the O’Connor Field House in Caldwell.

Wilson said Trump’s pro-life position on abortion and his position on keeping the economy open during COVID-19 were her major reasons for voting for the president.

“I care about keeping taxes low, and I am not going to vote for a socialist,” Wilson said.

Turnout was high across the state.

“With the new technology you can see the turnout, and in my home county it’s 91.5% in Cassia,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said Tuesday night. “That’s unprecedented.”

“It tells me that politics has dominated the news cycles for so long, the early voting, the vote-by-mail numbers are huge,” he said. “I’ve talked to several people who said, ‘I voted as early as I could so I could be done, so I could stop listening.’”

Bedke said the high turnout is “good news for Republicans … because we are a Republican state.”

“Hopefully those numbers hold nationwide,” he told supporters on an Idaho GOP live stream. “And it looks like it’ll be a long night.”

Reporters Betsy Z. Russell and Thomas Plank contributed.

Idaho GOP flips 2 statehouse seats

Idaho Republicans retained dominant majorities in House of Representatives and Senate races this week, taking control of local Legislative District 15 House Seat B and East Idaho District 29 House Seat A.

Republicans already held 80% of the 105 seats in the Idaho Legislature before this election; the results bring the party’s dominance to 82% of seats. That’s 80% in the Senate, which remains unchanged; and 83% in the House, up from 80%.

West Boise’s District 15 has been a rare Idaho battleground in recent years. Democrat Jake Ellis flipped the seat blue in 2018, but lost it Tuesday to Republican Codi Galloway, who took 52.6% of the vote.

In the district’s House Seat A, Rep. Steve Berch held his seat against Ellis’ 2018 challenger Patrick McDonald, pulling 50.6% to McDonald’s 47.8%.

In the Senate, District 15 incumbent Republican Sen. Fred S. Martin beat out Democrat Rick Just with 53% of ballots after staving off defeat in 2018 by just six votes.

In East Idaho, another House seat flipped Republican in District 29. Dustin Whitney Manwaring took down incumbent Rep. Chris Abernathy, D-Pocatello, with 53.8% of the vote. That was a 2018 rematch, after Abernathy nabbed the Seat A spot two years ago with 51% of the vote against then-incumbent Manwaring.

In North Idaho’s District 5, Dan Foreman took an early 67.7% lead against incumbent Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, but that lead dissipated as ballots were counted into Wednesday morning. Once all precincts reported, Nelson defended his seat, with 50.4% of the vote.

Aside from District 15, no other seats changed party control in Ada County.{/span} Republicans swept Canyon County’s legislative races; no GOP candidate received less than 60% of their district vote.


District 9

- Senate

Abby Lee, R (incumbent): 20,157 votes, 100%

- Representative Seat A

Ryan Kerby, R (incumbent): 20,008 votes, 100%

- Representative Seat A

Judy Boyle, R (incumbent): 17,678 votes, 78.36%

Allen Schmid, D: 4,882 votes, 21.64%

District 10

- Senate

Jim Rice, R (incumbent): 11,446 votes, 64.84%

Toni Ferro, D: 6,207 votes, 35.16%

- Representative Seat A

Julie Yamamoto, R: 11,854 votes, 67.44%

Rebecca Yamamoto Hanson, D: 5,722 votes, 32.56%

- Representative Seat B

Greg Chaney, R (incumbent): 11,375 votes, 65.4%

Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln, D: 6,019 votes, 34.6%

District 11

- Senate

Patti Anne Lodge, R (incumbent): 20,631 votes, 100%

- Representative Seat A

Scott Syme, R (incumbent): 19,087 votes, 80.59%

Jacob Lowder, D: 4,596 votes, 19.41%

- Representative Seat B

Tammy Nichols, R (incumbent): 18,866 votes, 79.82%

Edward Savala, D: 4,770 votes, 20.18%

District 12

- Senate

Todd Lakey, R (incumbent): 14,509 votes, 69.91%

Chelle Gluch, D: 6,245 votes, 30.09%

- Representative Seat A

Bruce Skaug, R: 14,274 votes, 69.15%

Pat Day Hartwell, D: 6,369 votes, 30.85%

- Representative Seat B

Rick Youngblood, R (incumbent): 17,278 votes, 100%

District 13

- Senate

Jeff Agenbroad, R (incumbent): 15,222 votes, 70.76%

Melissa Sue Robinson, D: 6,290 votes, 29.24%

- Representative Seat A

Brent Crane, R (incumbent): 15,068 votes, 69.95%

Jason Kutchma, D: 6,473 votes, 30.05%

- Representative Seat B

Ben Adams, R: 15,562 votes, 77.72%

Jess Smith, L: 4,460 votes, 22.28%

District 14

- Senate

C. Scott Grow, R (incumbent): 29,523 votes, 72.96%

Ellen Spencer, I: 10,942 votes, 27.04%

- Representative Seat A

Mike Moyle, R (incumbent): 28,605 votes, 71.16%

Cindy Currie, I: 11,591 votes, 28.84%

- Representative Seat B

Gayann DeMordaunt, R (incumbent): 28,659 votes, 70.38%

Shelley Brock, D: 12,063 votes, 29.62%

District 15

- Senate

Fred Martin, R (incumbent): 12,009 votes, 52.99%

Rick Just, D: 10,654 votes, 47.01%

- Representative Seat A

Steve Berch, D (incumbent): 11,567 votes, 50.59%

Patrick McDonald, R: 10,933 votes, 47.82%

David Hartigan, C: 365 votes, 1.6%

- Representative Seat B

Jake Ellis, D (incumbent): 10,785 votes, 47.39%

Codi Galloway, R: 11,975 votes, 52.61%

District 16

- Senate

Grant Burgoyne, D (incumbent): 15,128 votes, 62.3%

LeeJoe Lay, R: 9,154 votes, 37.70%

- Representative Seat A

John McCrostie, D (incumbent): 17,150 votes, 100%

- Representative Seat B

Colin Nash, D: 14,114 votes, 58.4%

Jacquelyn Davidson, R: 10,052 votes, 41.6%

District 17

- Senate

Ali Rabe, D: 12,891 votes, 61.79%

Gary Smith, R: 7,972 votes, 38.21%

- Representative Seat A

John Gannon, D (incumbent): 13,195 votes, 63.44%

Brittany Love, R: 7,604 votes, 36.56%

- Representative Seat B

Sue Chew, D (incumbent): 13,751 votes, 66.02%

Anthony Dephue, R: 7,079 votes, 33.98%

District 18

- Senate

Janie Ward-Engelking, D (incumbent): 17,928 votes, 61.93%

Mark Bost, R: 11,022 votes, 38.07%

- Representative Seat A

Ilana Rubel, D (incumbent): 17,645 votes, 61.2%

Gary Childe, R: 11,186 votes, 38.8%

- Representative Seat B

Brooke Green, D (incumbent): 17,339 votes, 60.67%

Pete Thomas, D: 11,241 votes, 39.33%

District 19

- Senate

Melissa Wintrow, D: 21,344 votes, 68.6%

Aaron Tribble, R: 9,768 votes, 31.4%

- Representative Seat A

Lauren Necochea, D (incumbent): 21,358 votes, 68.82%

Jim Feederle, R: 9,678 votes, 31.18%

- Representative Seat B

Chris Mathias, D: 20,940 votes, 67.79%

James Jacobson, R: 9,948 votes, 32.21%

District 20

- Senate

Chuck Winder, R (incumbent): 21,042 votes, 100%

- Representative Seat A

Joe Palmer, R (incumbent): 16,795 votes, 62.43%

Pat Soulliere, D: 9,301 votes, 34.58%

Daniel Weston, C: 804 votes, 2.99%

- Representative Seat B

James Holtzclaw, R (incumbent): 17,488 votes, 65.72

Samantha Hager, D: 9,120 votes, 34.28%

District 21

- Senate

Regina Bayer, R (incumbent): 19,869 votes, 63.88%

Dawn Pierce, D: 11,235 votes, 36.12%

- Representative Seat A

Steven Harris, R (incumbent): 19,731 votes, 63.69%

Donald Williamson, D: 11,249 votes, 36.31%

- Representative Seat B

Greg Ferch, R: 20,509 votes, 71.49%

Lisa Adams, L: 8,178 votes, 28.51%

District 22

- Senate

Lori Den Hartog, R (incumbent): 17,997 votes, 74.25%

Mik Lose, D: 6,242 votes, 25.75%

- Representative Seat A

John Vander Woude, R (incumbent): 17,451 votes, 72.14%

Diane Jensen, D: 6,739 votes, 27.86%

- Representative Seat B

Jason Monks, R (incumbent): 17,547 votes, 73.18%

Nina Turner, D: 6,431 votes, 26.82%

Source: sos.idaho.gov.

Idaho Press reporter Olivia Heersink contributed to this story.

Editor's note: This article was corrected Nov. 5 to show the proper political parties for Steve Berch and Patrick McDonald. 

1A COMMISSION Flipped by Republicans, 6