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Idaho secretary of state asks Little to delay May primary, hold it via absentee voting

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has asked Gov. Brad Little to delay the primary election scheduled for May 19, as the coronavirus continues to spread and wreak havoc on daily life.
In a letter sent to Little on Friday, Denney asked that the primary take place no earlier than June 16, and he wants to provide all registered voters with the chance to request an absentee ballot so that the election can be conducted in that manner. He wrote that he has “serious concerns regarding the administration of the (election).”
Denney said in a press release that he’s concerned large crowds of people will gather to vote, a potentially dangerous scenario if the COVID-19 pandemic has not significantly subsided. He even requested that the governor close all polling places for the primary when it does occur, writing that election days regularly serve as some of the largest pubic events in the state.
“We are considering alternative means within Idaho Code to be able to conduct this election and maintain public health and safety,” Denney wrote. “… We see Idaho’s absentee voting process as a safer means to conduct this election under this declaration of emergency.”
Denney wrote that on election days, “hundreds, if not thousands, of voters … come and go sharing common materials and space in over 900 polling places across our state.”
Due to the state’s strong past of high voter turnout, the Republican secretary of state requested that absentee voting be expanded to handle the primary, although he admitted that it’s not the preferred method to cast votes.
“However, given the current circumstances, it seems prudent to take advantage of this process in order to protect our voters,” Denney wrote.
The secretary of state wrote that he has consulted with all 44 county clerks in Idaho and all will be promoting the absentee ballots as a safe alternative to a regular election day. He called it an “unprecedented request.”
In order to speed up the absentee process, registered voters may now request their ballot online, an option that was made available earlier this week.
“We only turned this on 48 hours ago, and in that short window of time over 4,000 registered voters have requested their absentee ballot,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck in a press release. “As we begin to promote this opportunity more broadly in the coming days, we hope to see that number grow substantially.”
No timetable was included in Denney’s letter for when Little should make a decision.
To request your absentee ballot, go to this website.

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