Idaho Records Its Lowest-Ever General Election Voter Turnout

Nov 21, 2014

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated Nov. 21, 2014 

Idaho's voter participation in this year's general election was the lowest ever.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa tells the Spokesman Review that nearly 37 percent of Idaho's voting-age population cast a ballot Nov. 4.

Ysursa described the results as "abysmal," and urged the need to turn the number around.

“It was a record year, but not the way we wanted, it’s alarming that we are getting into a cycle of non-voting,” Ysursa told KBSX, “we need to stop it and get more interest and pride in voting.”

Ysursa says it's critical to get young people interested in voting, and get them excited about the process at an early age.

“Hopefully it’s not just disenchantment with the whole process," Ysursa said. "Certainly some of our dysfunction on the national level would lead some to not be too enthused about participation. But we need to change things or rebuild things in people’s minds.”

Idaho's previous low turnout was little more than 40 percent in the last midterm election in 2010.

According to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, voter turnout lagged across the country in states without competitive top of the ticket races. However, he added that Idaho's low participation was unusual.

Idaho's voter participation is highest during presidential election years. In 2012, more than 57 percent of the state's voting-age population came out to vote.

“Participation is the essence of democracy and when you start getting no participation, I don’t think it’s right, whether you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, whatever," he said. "We’re all Americans, we’re all citizens and the Republic is much better off when we participate.”