Officials at Ada County Elections knew something was up when they began comparing this year's balloting process with previous municipal elections.
"At this point - about six days away from Election Day - our rate-of-return of absentee ballots would be 48- to 52 percent," said Phil McGrane, Chief Deputy at the Ada County Clerk's Office. "But right now, we're at 24 percent. That's why we're concerned."
McGrane told Boise Weekly that the delay was not in his office.
"It was working from our side, where ballots are printed and inserted," said McGrane. "But it's where those ballots entered the postal service system that we're hearing about extensive delays."
As an example, McGrane said he was able to track one Ada County ballot request that was made by a voter on October 19th, yet that voter had still not received their absentee ballot as of October 27. McGrane said, "That's the extreme, not the norm. But that's a lot of time to have lapsed."
As a remedy, McGrane is urging voters to take advantage of early voting or to make a point of casting their vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3.
"Thing are going very well at our additional early voting sites," said McGrane, pointing to early voting at Meridian City Hall and the Ada County Indigent Services Building next to the Ada County Courthouse in Downtown Boise, in addition to the traditional early voting site at Ada County Elections on Benjamin Lane. "In some ways, the early voting is offsetting the mail delay issue. In fact, we've noticed an uptick in early voting. We've seen an approximately 50 percent increase compared to what we've seen in early voting for previous city elections."