BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Wednesday that in response to the current COVID-19 situation, his office has initiated the #VoteEarlyIdaho campaign. Denney, along with Idaho's 44 county clerks, are promoting early requests of absentee ballots for the May 19 primary election.
"By promoting early request of a ballot and voting by absentee, we are hoping Idahoans will take advantage of the opportunity to protect themselves and protect their neighbors. The process of voting absentee is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3," Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said. "You just have to request the ballot, wait for it to arrive around a month before the election, and then vote and get the ballot back to your county clerk before the polls close on election night!"
Denney asks all Idahoans to share the campaign on social media using the hashtag "#VoteEarlyIdaho."
Additional information and the ballot request form is available now at https://idahovotes.gov/vote-early-idaho/.
The announcement came around the same time the Idaho Democratic Party released a letter sent to Denney and Idaho Gov. Brad Little urging the May 19 primary election be held entirely by absentee ballot to the avoid spread of COVID-19.
Democrats say Idaho voters should be able to submit absentee ballot requests online and that forms be sent by mail to every registered voter in the state. According to the Secretary of State's Office, there are nearly 890,000 registered voters in Idaho.
“Statutes preclude us from having an all by mail election,” Houck said.
He said Idaho code requires there must be polling places for Idahoans to vote. Any change in code would have to come from the Idaho Legislature.
Also on Wednesday, Denney announced he is modifying the availability of over-the-counter services at both the 4th Street Corporate Division offices and the Secretary's Capital office.
"With key deadlines for report and candidate filings now behind us at the capital, and to minimize risk to both my staff and the public, we are limiting the availability of over-the-counter services in both our offices to 'by appointment only' at this time," said Denney. "We've made significant improvements in the past two years to make the vast majority of our services available online. Given the current environment, we are seeing an unexpected and immediate return on that investment."
The change will take place immediately and continue at minimum until April 6. While the doors to the office will close and signs with contact information will be posted, the office will still be open with staff continuing to answer both phone and email inquiries from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.