BOISE — Off-year elections are regularly forgotten or ignored by mainstream voters, with hyper-local races deciding municipal seats and city-specific initiatives, it's easy to focus on elections involving seats of larger populations like Congressional districts, statewide races or presidential elections. While those larger races happen in even years, it's the off-year elections deciding seats much closer to home: like mayor or city council.
But, Ada and Canyon County voters aren't sitting out for these off-year elections in 2019. In just the last year, Ada County has seen an increase of nearly 6.5 percent in registered voters (255,590 as of October 3 of this year, up from 240,024 on October 1 of 2018). Canyon County elections officials have seen a similar increase, up nearly 5 percent over last year (91,772 in 2019 over 87,463 in 2018).
Another way to look at the increase in registered voters is to compare apples to apples, ignoring the 2018 elections which featured big-ticket races like Congressional seats and statewide races, and focusing instead on the last off-year election of 2015. In just four years, the two highest-populated counties in Idaho have seen an even larger jump.
Since 2015's elections, Ada County has jumped nearly 23 percent (up from 208,001 registered voters in 2015). Canyon County's registered voter pool is nearly 19-percent larger (up from 77,370 in 2015).
Ada County elections officials say the increase over 2015 has a little to do with West Ada School District holding a trustee election this year as opposed to an even year.
Early voting is hardly different. In 2015, fewer than 2,000 people voted early in Ada County. But, at the same point in 2015, the County has seen a jump of 790 people voting in person (as of 12 days to go). Canyon County's increase in in-person early voting is even larger, jumping from 141 in 2015 to 306 (as of today). Officials in Ada County told 6 On Your Side, that massive increase in early voting is probably at least partially responsible for a massive drop-off in absentee voting.