BOISE -- We are two weeks from Election Day. Votes are already being cast in Ada County, and they are being cast at record-setting levels.
There's been a lot of voting at the Ada County Elections Office on Benjamin Lane in Boise. It's just one week into the early voting phase and poll workers already seeing about 500 people a day casting their ballots.
"This is the highest we've ever seen in a midterm election, in terms of the early voting turnout so far," said Phil McGrane, Chief Deputy Clerk of Ada County. "That's the same case with the absentee ballots."
There's plenty on the ballot this year; with races for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, the Idaho Legislature and the Ada County Highway District. But McGrane believes that's not what's bringing people out, "I think people are just becoming more aware of the alternative forms of voting. I don't anticipate right now that it's going to change turnout on Election Day."
McGrane says that's because the people voting early and sending in absentee ballots now are the same people that have historically voted on Election Day. So great turnout in early voting doesn't mean we'll see great turnout overall. McGrane expects about 50 percent of registered Ada County voters will cast a ballot, which is standard for a midterm election. State turnout is historically slightly lower, but he would love to be proven wrong.
He says the flexibility that early and absentee voting provides is specifically designed to make the democratic process more democratic, "We sure hope it does, and we put a lot of effort into doing everything we can to get people to come out and vote. We want to see as many people as possible engaged in the process. A lot of work goes in to making it possible for everyone to vote in the county, and so we want to see as many people take advantage of that as possible."
Poll workers expect it to ramp up even more in the coming week-and-a-half.
If you work during the week, they're also holding early voting this Saturday. That's from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Also, if you have an absentee ballot, get it in now. It doesn't matter when it's postmarked, it has to be delivered to the election office by Election Day on Nov. 4.