Big jump in voting

According to County Clerk Lynn Ragan (pictured) more than 2,700 mail-in ballot requests were processed as of May 18. This year's election will be mail-in only due to the coronavirus. The last day to request a mail in ballot was May 19, 2020.

Voter turnout in Benewah County is near 200 percent higher this year compared to four years ago.

As of May 18, county election officials processed 1,366 ballots and expected to process another 200 that day according to Benewah County Clerk Lynn Ragan. That is an increase of 191 percent compared to the 2016 primary, the last primary which included an election for sheriff. In 2016, there were 816 votes cast.

In this year’s mail-in primary 2,747 ballot requests were filed according to Ms. Ragan. Of those requests, 2,690 are processed, 57 remain.

The deadline to request a ballot was May 19, 8 p.m.

According to Ms. Ragan the turnaround time to receive a ballot is approximately 4 to 5 days.

Idahovotes.gov asks voters to wait 10 to 14 days to receive their ballot once requested through the website.

“It is quite a process,” Ms. Ragan said. “We are reviewing the requests determine party affiliation and ballot choice enter that in the voter registration system, then we have to enter those in a poll book before they are mailed. Then we have to assemble them. There are four or five things that go into the mailing envelope and then mail them.”

“We are getting requests in by the dozens every day,” Ms. Ragan said.

Since May 1, approximately 60 ballot requests per day have been received.

Despite the volume and complexity the process is going well according to Ms. Ragan.

“It is going smoothly, she said. “I think our biggest hiccup is with people who select a nonpartisan ballot only. We are trying to make sure they understand what that choice is and give them the choice of a party ballot.”

The nonpartisan ballot is only a judicial ballot with Supreme Court and appellate court judges for Idaho.

Voters who select a nonpartisan ballot do not have the option of voting for US, state or local party candidates.

Results will of this year’s primary will be available June 2, 2020. Six counting teams of 24 people are tasked with the count.

“We will take all day June 2, to count and we will be able to release results that night,” Ms. Ragain said. “I don’t know time.”

Ballot request forms for the primary election were mailed to registered voters. Forms are available at Idahovotes.gov. Benewah County also published a ballot request form in the May 6, and May 13, edition of the Gazette Record. Completed forms can be mailed to Benewah County Auditor at 701 W. College Ave., Ste. 101, St. Maries, Idaho 83861.

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