Ben Ysursa

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Secretary of State office changes hands this week after 12 years under the same elected leader. Lawerence Denney takes over for the retiring Ben Ysursa, who has been Idaho’s secretary of state for three terms.

Ysursa leaves as one of Idaho’s most respected political figures. Denney – a former Speaker of the Idaho House - raised eyebrows when he filed to run for the office. Some saw the Republican from Midvale as too partisan to run the state office that oversees elections, campaign finance, lobbying, and business filings.

Ysursa says he has heard the whispers regarding what Denney’s plan for the office – and policies on voter access – might be.

elections, voting, vote booth
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Election officials say voting went smoothly during Idaho's primary except for a ballot machine that stopped working in central Idaho and a ballot shortage in Kuna in southwest Idaho.

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says about 2,300 Blaine County ballots cast Tuesday had to be taken south and counted in Twin Falls County.

He says poll workers in Kuna overcame the ballot shortage by photocopying ballots for waiting voters.

Betty Richardson, Jim Weatherby, Ben Ysursa
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Republican Party has dominated Idaho politics for most of its history. In fact, it's one of the reddest states in the country. But it hasn't always been that way. Twenty years ago, Idaho had a Democratic governor.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Everyone knows Idaho is a red state.  In fact, it's one of the reddest in the country. But it hasn't always been that way. Twenty years ago, Idaho had a Democratic governor. More recently, Idaho had a Democrat in Congress.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says his recent decision not to run for a fourth term in office came down to one question.

"Did I have the inner zeal in my body, the fire in the belly to run?" Ysursa says. "I just didn't feel it. I was hopeful I'd catch the bug but I didn't. I was convinced a year ago I wasn't going to run. And then others started working on me a little bit. It was a tough decision."

State of Idaho

Next May's Republican primary for Idaho secretary of state could get a little more crowded, now that Ben Ysursa has opted against seeking a fourth term in 2014.

Former state Sen. Mitch Toryanski of Boise said Monday he's filing official paperwork, to allow him to begin fundraising and tour Idaho.

Already, Rep. Lawerence Denney, a former House speaker from Midvale, says he wants to be the state's top election official.

Toryanski said his listening tour, to gauge sentiment among GOP voters, will start Nov. 18, but the itinerary is still being worked out.

Ben Ysursa
Courtesy of Idaho Secretary of State's office

Longtime Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says he has decided not to seek a fourth term in office.  

The veteran Republican announced his plans to step away from office Friday.

Ysursa says he thought long and hard about his future, but ultimately decided to step away from public office when his term expires in January 2015.

Ysursa is 64 years old and he has worked in the office for 40 years.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

Republican state Rep. Lawerence Denney announced his run for secretary of state, even as incumbent Ben Ysursa remains undecided whether to seek a fourth term.

At an event in the Idaho Capitol in Boise, Denney on Thursday pledged to pursue election fraud allegations and said he'd work against the Idaho Department of Land's push to expand into commercial real estate where it competes with private business.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

So what percentage of people in Idaho voted?  Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says that’s a hard number to pin down so soon after Election Day.

“It’s difficult to give a turnout figure based on registered voters because we register voters on Election Day, so that’s a moving target,” Ysursa said.  “History has shown in a Presidential year, there could be 100,000 to 112,000 who have registered on Election Day.”

JenCarole / Flickr Creative Commons

If you had hoped to find out this week who donated money to an organization campaigning for Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2, and 3: you’re out of luck. An Idaho district judge had been scheduled to hear arguments from Idaho’s Secretary of State and Education Voters of Idaho today. Ed Voters want people to keep the state’s Students Come First education laws which are up for voter repeal. But the group doesn’t want to say where it got its funding.

Anthony Johnstone
University of Montana

Idaho’s Secretary of State wants a court to order a group campaigning for Idaho’s ballot referenda to reveal its donors.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

There’s a definite trend with voter turnout in Idaho.  Primaries bring out fewer people. General Elections bring out more. And Presidential years attract the most voters. This year should be no exception.

There were more than 750,000 registered voters in Idaho during this year’s May primary.  But a vast majority of those stayed home.  

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says that’s pretty typical. “The primary turnout, and this one was abysmal, the last one we had, but the primary turnouts are in the mid-20’s to 30 percent of registered voters.” 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Ada County’s Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane describes the upcoming November election this way, “It’s a nice, clean, old-fashioned election.”

He says it will be a big change from the May Primary. “Don’t have to pick a party, don’t have to pick a ballot, no other selections that you have to make.”

troupislaw.com

A group campaigning for Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2, and 3 refuses to divulge the names of individual donors. Lawyer Christ Troupis represents Education Voters of Idaho. Troupis delivered a letter Friday to Idaho’s Secretary of State saying his client did not have to accede to the secretary’s demand for names.

Ben Ysursa
Courtesy of Idaho Secretary of State's office

Friday is the deadline Idaho’s Secretary of State has given a nonprofit to reveal its donors. The group Education Voters of Idaho gave more than $200,000 to a second group to campaign for Idaho’s Students Come First education laws. Voters will decide if they want to repeal those through Propositions 1, 2, and 3 on the November ballot.

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