The clerks of both Bannock and Power counties were pleased by the turnout local races drew in an off-year election on Tuesday.
Final election results Tuesday showed 9,058 Bannock County voters cast completed ballots, of 39,452 registered voters.
Bannock County’s early voting was nearly as strong as the county’s early voting turnout in the 2017 election, which included a Pocatello mayoral race. Though the Pocatello mayor was not up for election, Bannock County Clerk Julie Hancock noted a dozen candidates filed to run for three open seats.
“There’s been a lot of interest in this one,” Hancock said. “I’m sure it’s a myriad of reasons.”
Hancock said there have also been candidate forums hosted by the city’s police and firefighters, the Republican Party and the Pocatello League of Women Voters to spur interest in the election.
“It’s been busier than I had anticipated,” Hancock said.
She said the phones of her office rang off the hook all day with people asking questions about where to vote. Hancock said the county is also expanding its use of ADA-compliant voting machines. The machines have a Braille controller with headphones and also use touch-screen technology. They bought 35 of the machines and will need nine more machines to have one for every precinct by the presidential general election.
Election official Janet Bruderer, who worked precincts at the Marshall Public Library, said one of the challenges was the addition of school board elections to the municipal ballot. Bruderer said she spent a lot of time during election day explaining to voters that not every precinct got to vote for a school board candidate.
“That’s been the hard part for this particular election,” Bruderer said.
In addition to an “I voted” sticker, Bruderer allowed her voters to choose a piece of left-over Halloween candy from a large bowl. She gave away a lot of sweets, as turnout was steady.
Well more than 1,000 voters cast ballots in Power County. Power County Clerk Sharee Sprague said turnout was strong but appeared to vary widely by precinct.
“I had one precinct I had to send more ballots to,” Sprague said. “It’s been fairly steady at my biggest (precinct), and slow at a couple (of precincts).”
Sprague implemented new polling booths for the Tuesday election that include four booths in a wheel configuration to save space and improve the flow of voters through polling places. Sprague said the county tested them out Tuesday to work out the kinks prior to the 2020 presidential election.
“We’ve always struggled with room at our precincts, and this has helped us out a lot,” Sprague said.