Friday, November 14, 2008

Blaine County voter turnout lower than previously predicted

County clerks still tallying final numbers

Express Staff Writer

While voter turnout in Blaine County reached an all-time high on Election Day, new numbers show the percentage is lower than what was initially recorded.

The official election canvass for Blaine County, now certified by the Blaine County Commissioners, has put the total number of registered voters at 13,988. That means that approximately 2,250 new voters registered between September 2008 and Election Day. As a result, the new voter turnout is now 76.54 percent, which is down from the initial calculation of 91.23 percent.

Blaine County Chief Deputy Clerk JoLynn Drage did say that these new registration numbers are not set in stone. While the Blaine County Commissioners approved the canvass number, the county clerks still have to enter the registrations into the computer—a lengthy process that will show a number of registrations to be invalid.

"Some people write things down wrong or don't sign their cards or forget to put their birthday or driver's license number,' said Blaine County Elections Deputy Heidi Schiers. "If the card is incorrect, we counted it initially but it won't count officially."

Drage added that people may have been registered prior to the election, but then moved residences forcing them to re-register, which would skew the number of registered voters.

That being said, Schiers did admit that the verification process is not perfect.

"It is definitely possible for some people to slip through," said Schiers. "If people are obviously, blatant doing voter fraud then we'll catch it, but there is room for human error."

Neither Schiers nor Drage could give a timeline for when the final and official count would be available.

When it came to national politics, Blaine County voters were on par more with the nation than with the state of Idaho. In Blaine County, president-elect Barack Obama took 65.59 percent of the vote compared to John McCain who took 32.42 percent of the vote. The state of Idaho, on the other hand, preferred McCain over Obama voting 62 percent in favor of McCain and 36 percent in favor of Obama.

In the race for United States Senator, Blaine County and the state disagreed again. While Blaine County favored Larry LaRocco over Jim Risch giving 59.46 percent to LaRocco and 36.71 percent to Risch, the state gave Risch 58 percent of the vote and LaRocco 34 percent.

For US Representative, District 2 Blaine County was somewhat in line with the state giving Mike Simpson 55.30 percent and Deborah Holmes 44.54 percent. The state gave Simpson 71 percent and Holmes 29 percent.

In fact, the only race where Blaine County and the state really agreed was the race for state representative of district 35 between Jeff Faulkner and incumbent Wendy Jaquet. In Blaine County, Jaquet received 75 percent of the vote while Faulkner received 25 percent. Similarly, the state gave Jaquet 63 percent and Faulkner 37 percent.

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