Idaho’s primary election will still take place on May 19, the state announced this week—but the election will be conducted by mail.

    Idahoans will be able to vote from home using absentee ballots, Gov. Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced Monday. On Wednesday, the governor signed a proclamation outlining the election process.

    “Given the growing number of coronavirus cases in Idaho, it simply was not safe for voters, election workers, or the larger community to hold in-person voting for the May primary,” Denney said in a press conference Wednesday.

    The decision became “necessary” after state officials realized that “sufficient polling places and poll workers could not be obtained for the election,” the Governor’s Office said in a statement Monday.

    “I think we’ve come up with a pretty solid plan going forward,” Denney said.

    The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has set up a website that allows Idaho voters to register and request an absentee ballot online. The state will automatically send out absentee ballot request forms in the mail in the coming weeks to any registered voters who have not already requested a ballot, Denney said.

    Voters who require special accommodations for voting are asked to contact their county clerk’s office.

    For Idahoans who wish to register to vote but do not have state-issued identification, a special form may be downloaded online and mailed to their county clerk’s office, Denney said.

    The primary election will technically still take place on May 19, but voters are not required to return their completed ballots by that night. May 19 is, however, the deadline for Idahoans to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. The state will count ballots June 2.

    Little urged Idahoans in a statement from the Governor’s Office to request their absentee ballots “as soon as possible.”

    In the statement from the Governor’s Office, Idaho Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill applauded Little’s decision to conduct the election by mail.

    “We all hope Idaho’s situation with coronavirus will improve before election day on May 19, but decisions cannot wait,” Hill said, adding: “This is our chance to show the world that, even under difficult conditions, our American values are alive and well.”

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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