Blaine County paced the state in the Nov. 6 midterm elections, with more than three-quarters of registered voters casting ballots—the highest rate in Idaho.
In all, 76.4 percent of the county’s 13,860 registered voters participated earlier this month, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the statewide mark, according to the State Board of Canvassers, who certified the tally last week.
That’s no slight to the state, whose 66.8 percent participation rate among registered voters was its highest in a non-presidential election since 1994, when 67 percent cast ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Without the draw of a presidential race, fewer voters typically turn out for midterm elections. This year’s, though, saw a 10 percentage-point spike across Idaho compared to the 2014 midterm contests. In fact, all but one county in Idaho topped the 2014’s 56.1 percent statewide participation rate this time around.
In Blaine County, 849 people registered the same day they voted, including 350 who registered and voted at the same time during the early voting period, according to County Clerk JoLynn Drage.
Nearly half of Blaine County’s ballots were cast early—5,139 or 10,586, according to County Services Manager Brooke Baird, who works in the election’s office. That’s significantly higher than the state as a whole, where 26.4 percent of ballots were submitted early or absentee.
For Blaine’s predominantly blue voters, participation didn’t translate to success in the final tally. Democrats took Blaine County in every statewide race, but none will take office next year.
Of Idaho’s 44 counties, Blaine was one of four to go for Democratic candidate Paulette Jordan in her ballot-headlining gubernatorial race against Republican Brad Little, joining Ada, Teton and Latah.
But because of their gigantic disparity in size, a county-by-county look can distort the Idaho electorate.
With 274,266, Ada alone accounts for almost 30 percent of the state’s registered voters—just about 175,000 more than the next largest, Canyon. At its 70.1 percent participation rate, voters there cast more than 18 times as many ballots as Blaine County.
At the other end, Clark County, the state’s smallest, has 410 registered voters. Governor-elect Little took Clark County over Jordan, 195 to 47.