Mail-in ballots at Ada County Elections office

A voter drops off a ballot outside the Ada County Elections office, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

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More than 370,000 Idahoans, or about 42% of registered voters, have requested ballots to vote in the primary election, which, if returned by the June 2 deadline, would result in record turnout in a primary election, writes Idaho Press reporter Ryan Suppe. This year’s primary is being conducted by absentee voting only, and election experts expected a low turnout. The opposite appears to be happening.

The 371,765 statewide ballot requests, as of Monday, top 2018’s May primary — the current record-holder for primary turnout — by about 100,000 ballots.

Ada County, which represents about one-third of the state’s voters, received 116,475 ballot requests, representing 44% of registered voters. In 2018, 78,796 registered voters, or 34%, cast ballots in the May primary.

Canyon County has received 42,698 ballot requests, as of Tuesday, also 44% of registered voters. If every Canyon County ballot is returned, it would represent a 13% increase from the 2018 May primary.

Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said this election is shaping up to be “surprisingly historic.”

“In terms of ballots requested, we’re seeing record numbers by leaps and bounds,” McGrane said. “It’s definitely been different than I would have expected.”

You can read Suppe's full story here at, or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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