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As Ada County Officials Prepare for the Big Count, Early Voter Numbers Continue to Swell

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The number of early voters in Ada County, as in other communities around the country, has broken records ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 8 General Election. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • The number of early voters in Ada County, as in other communities around the country, has broken records ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 8 General Election.
A line of early voters snaked along the sidewalks outside Ada County Election Headquarters on N. Benjamin Lane Thursday afternoon, as Boise area residents joined the record-breaking number of citizens around the country casting their ballots before the Tuesday, Nov. 8 General Election.

"When we go up to an election like this, we have to figure out how to get people to vote early—either by mail or in person," said Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich. "We were hoping to get about 60,000 early 
The Ada County voting system is designed for a 35 to 45 percent turnout range, but with early voting and mail-in absentee ballots, the total will almost certainly be higher. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • The Ada County voting system is designed for a 35 to 45 percent turnout range, but with early voting and mail-in absentee ballots, the total will almost certainly be higher.
voters. I think it will be closer to 70,000."

Behind several levels of security Inside the elections offices, Rich was overseeing pre-election logic and accuracy testing, putting workers and equipment to the test in preparation for the official count on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

"I've been in this business for 19 years, but this is only my fourth presidential election," Rich said. "Quite frankly, our voting system is not designed for a 75 to 80 percent turnout. We're really scaled for a 35 to 45 percent range, which are nearly all of our elections except for the presidential election. With in-person early voting and mailed-in absentee ballots, we could see a total of 120,000 to 130,000 early votes and we have about 220,000-plus registered voters in Ada."

Rich said his workers will begin opening mail-in absentee envelopes on Monday, Nov. 7, and the public is invited to watch that process.

"But we won't be counting any of them just yet. That count can't begin until Election Day," he added. "But we want to have those ballots flattened and ready to scan. If all goes as planned, we could have all of the early votes and absentee ballot votes counted and ready to be shared about an hour after the polls closed. You could start seeing results as early at 9 p.m. on Tuesday."