Idaho Primary Turnout Hits New Low

Idaho’s recent primary elections will likely hit a historical low with 23 % of registered voters casting ballots.  The closed Republican primary confused some people and may have kept others from voting Tuesday. 

Idaho’s Secretary of State Ben Ysursa predicted before the primary elections Tuesday that turnout would be about 25 %.  Unofficially, it was about two points lower than that.   Ysursa says, "In my opinion, the main reason for the decline in the turnout was attributable to the, for the first time, Idaho’s closed primary where people had to declare their party affiliation and make that a public record."

Idaho law allows political parties the option every two years to have a closed, open, or semi-open primary.  Idaho Republicans decided to close their primary to registered party members. 

Jonathan Parker is the executive director of the Idaho GOP.  He says they have yet to make a decision on their next primary. "You know our members will reevaluate the situation at the state convention and our future central committee meetings, and two years from now we’ll make a decision whether or not to have an open or closed primary."   Parker believes voters stayed away because they didn’t have a governor, U.S. Senator, or a presidential candidate on the ballot.  The GOP picked their presidential nominee during the caucuses in March. 

The state Democratic Party kept its primary open, allowing anyone to cast a ballot.  Larry Grant is Party chairman.  He says there may have been some confusion among unaffiliated voters.   "Some of our county folks are getting calls now.  The indications were that if they were unaffiliated they could not vote in either the Republican or the Democratic primary."  Grant says they’ll take a closer look at these allegations and share what they find with the Secretary of State’s Office. 

Official results on primary voter turnout won’t be known until the end of May. 

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio