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Politics & Government
2020 could be one of the most consequential and unusual elections in American history. And now the time has come to cast a ballot, but how? And when? Boise State Public Radio is here to bring you the latest news and information you need to cast your vote in Idaho.

Election 2020: Live Results In Idaho

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Heath Druzin
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Boise State Public Radio
Before polls closed at 8 p.m. on Election Day, the line at Ada County Election Headquarters wrapped back around the building.

It's Election Day and the Boise State Public Radio newsroom is covering events as they unfold across the state, and across the nation. With the 2020 vote being shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and deep political divisions, it's been a cycle like no other.

Bookmark this page and keep checking back for updates from our reporters around the state.

Looking for results? Find statewide results here and national results here. You can also check out NPR's live blog here.

Update — November 4, 7:16 a.m.

From the Associated Press: Idaho voters OK constitutional amendment setting 35 legislative districts.

Update — 11:45 p.m.

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said the election in Idaho has gone “better than expected,” considering the pandemic, last-minute election personnel changes and brand new processes and software across the state.

Even with the record number of voters and absentee ballots, Houck said election-day issues were mostly related to election personnel getting sick and needing to be replaced. His office helped restaff multiple counties at the last minute due to worries related to COVID-19.

“I think this election probably taxed resources, especially in terms of human resources across the state, more than any one we can remember in recent history,” Houck told reporters late Tuesday.

Houck says nearly 422,000 absentee ballots were requested for the November election statewide, and more than 380,000 were returned valid. That number will likely increase as some absentees were returned right before tonight’s deadline. Approximately 40,000 ballots were “spoiled,” most of which were likely given up for in-person voting, Houck said.

About 2,200 absentee ballots were returned undeliverable, and just 469 were refused for signatures, he added.

As of this post, more than a dozen Idaho counties were listed as “unreported” on the Secretary of State’s results website.

Update — 11:12 p.m.

From the Associated Press: Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher have retained their seats in Congress.

Simpson will serve a 12th term representing the 2nd Congressional District in eastern Idaho after defeating Democrat Aaron Swisher on Tuesday. Fulcher will serve a second term representing the 1st Congressional District in western Idaho after defeating Democrat Rudy Soto.

Republicans have long dominated red-state Idaho, where Simpson and Fulcher turned aside their challengers. Simpson has brought millions of federal dollars to the state for the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the nation’s primary nuclear research labs. Fulcher and Simpson have both voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Update — 10:36 p.m.

From the Associated Press: Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch has been reelected to Congress, defeating Democratic challenger Paulette Jordan.

Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has served in the Senate since 2008, when he was elected to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Larry Craig. An avid supporter of President Donald Trump, Risch was widely expected to win the race in the heavily conservative state of Idaho.

Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and a former state legislator, first gained national attention in 2018 when she unsuccessfully ran for Idaho governor against then-Lt. Gov. Brad Little.

Update — 10:00 p.m.

Last week, Idaho’s Secretary of State office trained 51 state employees to work as backup Election Day workers. The state provided this training in anticipation that the coronavirus might affect staffing levels at county election offices.

State employees from departments such as the State Tax Commission, the Department of Health and Welfare and the Department of Lands were sent to five Idaho counties to help out with elections, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told reporters in a press call Tuesday evening. Fourteen workers went to Kootenai County, four to Lincoln, two to Boise, 16 to Twin Falls and 10 went to Canyon County.

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Credit Lara Disney
As COVID-19 continues to affect Idaho, 14 state workers were sent to Kootenai County Monday evening to assist with elections procedures and protocols.

Twin Falls County Clerk Kristina Glascock said high COVID-19 numbers in the county meant her office went through its entire list of substitute poll workers and still needed more help from the state. The staff from Boise helped with sanitation of voting areas and greeting voters, she said.

The training and transportation costs related to this effort were paid for by federal dollars, according to Houck.

Update — 9:30 p.m.

Those who voted early in Ada County or cast an absentee ballot overwhelmingly support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Of the roughly 178,000 ballots counted out of the more than 258,000 ballots cast in Idaho’s largest county, Biden is ahead of incumbent President Donald Trump 55.4% to 42.1%.

Ada County hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for decades. In 2016, Trump edged out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 47.9% to 38.7%. Third party candidates soaked up a significant portion of the vote that year.

That advantage for the Democrats among early and absentee voters there carried over to two other federal races. Incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Risch is trailing former gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan by more than 10 points among these very early returns. Aaron Swisher is also leading Rep. Mike Simpson for Idaho’s second congressional district 62.1% to 35.7%.

But Republican Rep. Russ Fulcher holds a 20,000-vote lead over political newcomer Rudy Soto for Idaho’s first congressional district.

Update — 8:27 p.m.

Polls have closed in the southern half of the state and some counties are already reporting record breaking voter turnouts. Ada County’s latest update reports an 82% turnout thus far. The biggest demographic that voted in-person today in Ada County? 18-34 year olds.

Ciara Drake, a 20-year-old student at University of Idaho, said that voting for the first time "felt very impactful for me and made me feel like I was actually doing something that would inflect change.”

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Eighteen-year-old first-time voter Ella Weber (right) said new voters like her might struggle with a long wait as results roll in.

Ella Weber, an 18-year-old student attending University of San Francisco virtually in Boise, wasn’t able to vote in the 2016 election. But, she said its outcome directly affected her career path and community involvement. This year, Weber said voting was a “fun and super memorable experience. Even though we were masked, I could see the poll workers’ excitement when I told them I was a first-time voter.”

“I feel really good, honestly, to be able to use my voice and my rights as a citizen,” said Esther David, a 19-year-old student at University of Idaho. “It made me so happy to get the little ‘I Voted’ sticker.”

Bayley Bingham, a 21-year-old first-time voter in Boise, voted early the first day he could. “I would hope that everyone who seeks to cast a vote would be able to,” Bingham said. “I think that voter suppression is something that's on the minds of a lot of people.”

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First-time voter Bayley Bingham.

Joseph Tibesar, an 18-year-old student at University of Idaho, cast his first vote as an absentee because of the pandemic. “What I hope from this election overall is that America comes together,” he said.

Update — 7:47 p.m.

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck met reporters via zoom for the first of several calls Tuesday and offered updates from around the state on Election Day. Houck said the use of electronic poll books has offered nearly real-time election participation data throughout the day.

Turnout in progress is on track for record numbers, with 82% of Ada County voters having already voted with time still on the clock. Other percentages from across the state: Blaine: 84%, Bonner: 74% and Kootenai County at 80% with more than an hour to go before polls close in Pacific Time.

Houck said there have been some allegations of electioneering at different places across the state, but each has been rectified quickly. In Canyon County, Houck was nearby when the call came in, and he arrived at the polling location just as law enforcement was escorting someone outside the 100-foot requirement.

Update — 7:44 p.m.

Voting is slowing down significantly, but the story of the night so far has been record turnout in Ada County.

More than 255,000 people have cast a ballot in Idaho’s largest county – obliterating the 2016 turnout of 202,971.

Young people, ages 18-34, are the largest voting bloc of those who voted in-person Tuesday, making up nearly one-third of the ballots cast.

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time across the state. Ballots can be dropped off up until that point and those in line at 8 p.m. will still have a chance to vote.

Update — 7:02 p.m

Some Idahoans reported receiving suspicious robo calls on Election Day warning them to "stay home, stay safe" on Election Day and encouraging them to vote at a later date. Those who received the calls said they came from a phone number with a local area code.

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney is warning voters these calls are not legitimate and should be ignored. All Idaho polling locations are open for state residents to vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day — that's Tuesday, Nov. 3. No voting is available after that deadline.

Update — 6:37 p.m.

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Credit Boise State Public Radio

Fears about absentee ballot rejections, at least in Ada County, haven’t come to pass.

Idaho’s largest county issued 142,711 absentee ballots this year, smashing the previous record of 32,557 set in 2012.

Ada County Elections says 127,024 of those ballots have been accepted as valid, with exceptionally few rejections.

Of them, 64 had no signature, nine signatures didn’t match, one was signed by a spouse and six are still being reviewed. Several thousand ballots are still outstanding, which need to be dropped in one of the several drop boxes across Ada County by 8 p.m. to be counted.

Update — 6:20 p.m.
 
One of the most contentious and coveted prizes in this year’s election is District 15 in West Boise.

Democrats nearly swept Republicans out of all three legislative seats two years ago, with Steve Berch and Jake Ellis capturing both House spots. State Sen. Fred Martin held on to his seat by just six votes.

This year, Democrats fielded a new challenger, Rick Just, to take on Martin and Republicans Patrick McDonald and Codi Galloway are hoping to grab both House seats back for the GOP.

But changing demographics in that district, including younger, more liberal people priced out of the Boise core, have been bad news for conservatives.

Of course, regardless of who wins this time, the district could be completely unrecognizable in two years after the state undergoes its once-in-a-decade redistricting process.

But these aren’t the only legislative seats that both parties are clamoring for.

Up north in District 5, which includes Benewah and Latah counties, former Republican state senator Dan Foreman is trying to win his seat back from incumbent Democrat David Nelson. Nelson pushed out Foreman by more than 12% two years ago.

Dems are clamoring for an open state House seat, too, left by retiring state Rep. Bill Goesling. Dulce Kersting-Lark is trying to flip the seat, facing Republican Brandon Mitchell. Democrat Renee Love is also trying to edge out Republican incumbent Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy.

Another repeat showdown is set in Pocatello. Democrat state Rep. Chris Abernathy is taking on Dustin Manwaring, who he beat by just 337 votes two years ago.

For Democrats, any pickups would help boost the small influence the party has on powerful legislative committees, though Republicans would still maintain their dominant supermajorities in both the House and Senate.