There are just six days until Election Day. Are you ready?
A lot of you have already cast your ballot, but the majority are waiting until November 6.
In Ada County, people are showing up in big numbers for early voting and returning a high number of absentee ballots this year. Elections officials expect that to roll into Election Day.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO VOTE: KTVB Voter Guide
Data provided by Ada County Elections shows voter turnout in the 1994 midterm elections was extremely high across the state of Idaho: 67 percent of registered voters in the state voted in that election. It was a competitive year in Idaho politics: we were electing a new governor and congresswoman, and the state shifted from blue to red.
Elections officials don't believe turnout will be quite at that level this midterm year, but say it's the closest comparison in looking at how high turnout will be - and already is.
There are 245,000 registered voters in the state's most-populated county; 43,000 of those have already cast a ballot in early voting or with an absentee ballot. Ada County Elections finished mailing out all absentee ballots last weekend, but early voting is still going on.
“I expect that at least 30 to 35 percent of people who vote in this election will have voted prior to Election Day,” Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane said. “Ada County voters vote, Idaho voters vote. We out-perform national trends generally.”
In Canyon County, there are about 89,500 registered voters. Elections officials say 10,255 ballots have been cast, which is a little more than 11 percent of voters.
McGrane showed us up-to-date graphics of trends they're seeing.
“This is the makeup: so baby boomers make up half of people who have already voted,” McGrane explained.
Millennials are not showing up too well in early voting, but were the largest group to register to vote this year.
“It is the older generations participating right now, taking advantage of absentee and taking advantage of the in-person early voting,” McGrane added.
Forty-two percent of ballots cast in Ada are from registered Republicans; 25 percent are registered Democratic, and 31 percent are unaffiliated, according to the latest data.
However, while there are thousands more registered Republican voters in Ada County than there are Democrats, the data shows a larger percentage of registered Democratic voters are showing up than registered Republican or unaffiliated voters. Almost 24 percent of registered Democrats have already voted, while a little more than 17 percent of registered Republicans have voted.
“Of registered Democrats a larger portion have shown up and already voted. Of registered Republicans there's still a lot more room,” McGrane added
Ada and Canyon counties learned some lessons from unexpected, unprecedented turnout in the May primary election when they were short ballots.
“The unprecedented turnout we saw in primary we really weren't prepared for it. We were prepared for unprecedented turnout but when you get to three times the turnout you had prior, we just weren't ever prepared for that,” McGrane said. “One of the challenges we have is there's hot spots in the county.”
To prep for high voter turnout, Ada and Canyon counties have ordered enough ballots for 100 percent of the registered voters in their respective counties. Canyon County also bought another on-demand ballot printer and will have more staff in house to run ballots out to precincts if need be.
McGrane says they have the mobile voting unit on hand as an emergency preparedness plan for Election Day in case any polling location is “taken down” for some reason. They’re confident they’ll have no ballot issues this year.
“There’s always something we didn’t plan for so I’m sure there's going to be something we may not saw but we've worked really make sure we're as prepared as can be for next Tuesday,” he added.
On Election Day, the hottest times are before and after people get off work.
“The busiest time frames are right at the very beginning of the day at 8 a.m. where people are trying to vote before they go to work. The best time to go is right in the middle of the day, so your lunch hour. The really big time is right after 5 o’clock.”
You can expect lines if you go vote at peak times, but McGrane says they don’t expect really long lines for this election in general because so many people are voting early or requesting absentee ballots. Nevertheless, officials advise you make a plan.
“Just bring a photo ID. If you're already registered to vote that'll make it easier. If for some reason you forget [your ID] we have a personal identification affidavit you can complete,” McGrane said.
To play it safe if you've had any changes recently to your last name or address - or you’re not registered to vote yet - bring proof of residence, too, like a utility bill or lease agreement.
In case you didn't know, you can register to vote on Election Day in Idaho. Ada County expects an average of about 30,000 people to take advantage of same-day registration.
“Part of that is just the growth. With all these people moving in there's a lot of people who need to register,” he said.
You can still early vote until Friday at 5 p.m. If you haven’t returned your absentee ballot yet, you’ll need to mail it in or drop it off ASAP because elections offices need them in by 8 p.m. (when polls close) on Tuesday.
For everything you need to know about Decision 2018, head to our KTVB Voter Guide.