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Viewpoint: Elections officials talk coronavirus and the Idaho primary elections

Idaho elections officials push absentee voting for the May primary due to coronavirus concerns.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho's May primary elections are still two months away, but state and county elections officials are getting the word out now, they want people to vote by absentee ballot. That's because of concerns over the coronavirus.

They hope to see as many as 60 to 70 percent of voters cast absentee ballots. 

This will keep people from having to go to a polling place.

“For one, one of the significant at-risk populations is the older population," Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said. "If you look statistically at the history of who staffs our polling locations it's predominantly 65, 70, 75-year-old folks that are doing that poll worker day participation. So, we want to protect that community and that demographic. So, we'd like to see new volunteers helping us out at the polls."

“We talk about large gatherings. When it comes to voting, you're having hundreds, if not thousands, come through any of these individual polling locations, and we want to make sure everybody in our community is safe," Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said.  

McGrane says Ada County is also moving polling locations out of senior centers and assisted living facilities to help protect seniors from the coronavirus.  

At polling places on May 19, Ada County will provide plenty of hand sanitizer, and each voter will get their own pencil to fill in the circles on their ballot.

You can request an absentee ballot by going to Idahovotes.gov. The ballot will be mailed to you.

Coming up at 6:30 this Sunday morning on Viewpoint, Doug Petcash also talks with the elections officials about what else will be different for voters in the May election.

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