BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney is teaming up with grocers to address concerns about return postage on absentee ballots for the upcoming primary election, which includes congressional, legislative and county races.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak and associated social-distancing directives, the May 19 primary will be done entirely by absentee ballot.
Denney said some counties are already providing return postage so that voters do not need to pay for their own stamp to mail in a ballot. However, not all voters are receiving return postage. That's where the grocery store partnership comes in.
"All a voter needs to do is bring their completed, sealed and signed return-ballot envelope to any of the store locations, bring it to the customer service counter, and the store will provide a stamp for the voter," said Kathy Holland with Albertsons Companies Intermountain Division.
Participating grocers include Albertsons, Safeway, and 43 independent grocers, including M&W and Ridley's, to name two.
Follow this link for a complete list of partners.
Grocers who are not already on the list may sign up through that website.
Details of the partnership were announced in a news conference Thursday afternoon, streamed on the Idaho Secretary of State Facebook page.
To vote in the May 19 primary, Idahoans must request an absentee ballot from the county clerk or through the Idaho Votes website by May 19.
Staff were making adjustments to that website Wednesday night to "try to up our traffic capacity," according to a post on Facebook.
The state will mail out ballot request forms to all voters who have not already requested a ballot. That will happen next week, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said.
Voters will be asked to select a ballot for one party, or an unaffiliated ballot.
Only voters who have declared affiliation with the Republican Party may vote in the Republican primary.
Once your ballot arrives - around ten days following the request - fill it out and mail it back to the county clerk using the pre-addressed envelope.
If postage is not included when you receive your ballot, take it to one of the participating grocery stores for a stamp after you've sealed and signed the envelope.
The Secretary of State's Office urges voters to not wait until May 19 to request a ballot. All ballots must be returned to county clerks' offices by June 2 to be counted.
"Request your ballot today, educate yourself on the decisions that will be on your particular ballot, and then vote that ballot and get it back in," Denney said.
Houck said that as of midnight Wednesday, 120,000 voters had requested their absentee ballots. About 80,000 of those requests have come online.
Ballots from those who have requested them should start arriving in the mail within the next two weeks, Houck said.
Denney said that accommodations for the disabled community are still a priority for the counties, and will be handled on a county-by-county basis.
"We have requested all counties to reach out to the advocacy groups in their areas, in their communities and communicate to them the following message: that accommodations for individuals with disabilities will remain available," Denney said.
He advises contacting your county clerk's office directly to discuss what accommodations are available.
Counties have contact information on their individual websites. It can also be found in a list on the the Idaho Votes site.