Ada County Absentee Ballots

In this file photo, volunteers dig into stacks of absentee ballots during the process of removing the ballots from mailing envelopes at the Ada County Elections office in Boise, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

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BOISE — The Idaho Secretary of State is partnering with Albertsons and Safeway to help provide voters with the return postage needed to submit absentee ballots for the May 19 primary election.

In a virtual press conference Thursday, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said he had to reverse a previous statement that the state government would pay for the return postage of the absentee ballots, because some counties had not attached postage to the materials for absentee ballots.

To address the concern that some voters will not receive return postage, Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said voters can bring their return envelopes with their ballots to any participating Albertsons or Safeway to get a stamp for their ballot.

A list of statewide grocers who will give voters stamps can be found at idahovotes.gov/grocery.

Houck said voters will need to verify that they did not receive any return postage with their ballots. Voters should then put their ballot in the return envelope and sign the envelope. Once the voter gets the stamp from the grocery store, they need to place it in the mail themselves.

Houck announced that so far, 120,000 ballots have been requested; 80,000 ballots had been requested online through idahovotes.gov and another 40,000 had been requested through paper forms through county clerks’ offices.

Houck said the Secretary of State will be mailing paper absentee request forms to any voter who has not requested an absentee ballot yet.

The Secretary of State’s Office is also launching the Business Owners’ Absentee Voting Awareness Program, inviting business owners to share videos on Facebook about the absentee voting process.

“We want to introduce a new program that will assist in the area of awareness,” Denney said. “Access to Idaho ballots by all individuals is a priority for us.”

To participate, business owners will record a video that both address how their business is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages voters to request their absentee ballot online. More information about how to participate can be found at idahovotes.gov/boavap.

To request a ballot online, voters can go to idahovotes.gov. The deadline to register to vote and request a ballot is May 19; this can also be on at idahovotes.gov. Ballots must be returned to county clerks by 8 p.m. June 2.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs and Canyon County reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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