The Board of Canvassers will meet May 30 to make official the 2012 primary election vote, one that has been subject of debate over the effect that the new closed primary law may have had on voter participation.
Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has predicted a 23 percent voter turnout. A 23 percent score would mark it as the lowest on record. This website last week showed that long-term data trends would point to a turnout in the 25.5 percent turnout, near as bad as the 2008 low point of 24.9 percent.
Information on voter turnout is already available from websites of 19 counties across Idaho. These 19 counties accounted for nearly 80 percent of the registered voters in the 2010 primary. Voter turnout as a percent of registered voters in these counties totals 22.4 percent for the 2012 primary election, slightly less than the Ysursa prediction.
These 19 counties include those that historically rank among the worst performing counties in terms of voter turnout. The remaining 25 counties with 21 percent of the registered voters actually made up 27 percent of the voter turnout in 2010. With some number crunching the following chart shows where the various projections compare to one another:
The maroon square titled “Projection” is the estimate of where voter turnout could end up once the more numerous, smaller population, but historically better voter turnout performing counties are accounted for into a statewide total.
In 2010 the 19 counties where we have data collectively had a voter turnout of 25.1 percent. The 25 smaller counties came in at 34.8 percent. This year some of the yet to be accounted for counties appear to have maintained or even increased their turnout, including Fremont, Franklin and Caribou counties. But other counties’ vote totals are down from 2010. Blaine County tanked with voter turnout down to barely one-third of its 2010 performance. On balance these remaining counties will pull up the average from the low point where the blue circle on the graph sits below the green triangle. But how much higher than the blue dot or the green triangle requires guesswork. We still don’t have an exact handle on number of registered voters. The ballpark of 756,000 still seems reasonable.
Ysursa may well be correct in his prediction, because 23.49 percent rounds down to 23 percent. But there appear to be too many nonpartisan ballots that were cast in the primary election to hold to the paltry 23 percent turnout prediction. It may slip above the 24 percent line. School district levy and bond elections may be what brought out some voters who otherwise were not interested in a party primary, or would not have come out just to vote on retaining judges. Thus, the maroon square is plotted at about 24.2 percent.
Meanwhile of those 19 counties that are already accounted for, the “bragging rights” for being turnout losers are Ada and Bannock, where voters clocked in at 16.8% and 15.5% respectively.