How to Vote in Idaho's 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

Posted on 07/28/20 by Mac McLean

En Espanol | Idaho conducted its May primary election entirely by mail, to help limit exposure to COVID-19. The state has not announced plans to do the same for the November election, but absentee voting is open to all voters, so you can safely cast your ballot from home:

  • You don’t need to cite a reason to request an absentee ballot.
  • Early voting will be available in some counties from Monday, Oct. 19, to Friday, Oct. 30.
  • The situation with COVID-19 may impact election operation; check the secretary of state’s IdahoVotes.gov site for up-to-date information.
A man walks out of an absentee voting station after voting

Here’s what else you need to know:

How do I register to vote?

You can register online, at the secretary of state’s website, if you have a current Idaho driver’s license or state identification card. If you don’t have those IDs, you can still download a voter registration form and mail it or bring it to your county clerk’s office before Friday, Oct. 9.

You may also register to vote at your polling place on Election Day, if you have a valid Idaho driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or a document with your valid address in your voting precinct and a photo ID.

How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

If you have an Idaho driver’s license or state identification card and know the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, you can request a ballot online. If not, request one by downloading an application from the secretary of state’s website and mail or deliver it to your county clerk’s office before Friday, Oct. 23. Absentee ballots will be sent to your residence; completed ballots must be returned to the clerk’s office before 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.

If you cannot vote because you’re in the hospital, you can also request an “emergency” absentee ballot. These requests must be received by your county clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.

Note that in Idaho, absentee ballots are different from mail-in ballots. County clerks will mail ballots directly to people who live in remote, sparsely-populated mail ballot precincts between Monday, Oct. 12 and Tuesday, Oct. 20. These ballots must be returned to the country clerk’s office before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

How do I know my absentee ballot is secure?

State elections officials check the signature on the outer envelope of every returned ballot against the signatures on the voter’s ballot application and voter registration form. If the signatures don’t match, an official will call the voter to make sure he or she submitted the ballot. Ballots remain inside their security sleeves until the outer envelopes are discarded, so officials can’t tell whose ballot is whose.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

Tuesday, Nov. 3. Clerk’s offices and other polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., though some clerks may choose to open at 7 a.m.

Can I vote before Election Day?

Certain counties will likely offer early voting between Monday, Oct. 19 and Friday, Oct. 30. Voters may also request and cast an in-person absentee ballot at their county clerk’s office before Oct. 30.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

Voters heading to the polls on Election Day or for early voting must bring a photo ID, which could be an Idaho driver’s license or state-issued ID, U.S. passport, tribal photo ID card or a license to carry a concealed weapon from a county sheriff in Idaho. Voters who do not have a photo ID can sign a personal identification affidavit to obtain a ballot at the polling place.

Will I be able to vote in the same place I always have?

Not necessarily. Find your polling place at the secretary of state’s website.

What is being done to make polling places safe from coronavirus?

Despite the all-absentee primary election, the state hadn’t announced plans for safeguarding polling places from the pandemic by mid-July. Check the secretary of state’s IdahoVotes.gov site for updates.

What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. President
  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Jim Risch (R) vs. Paulette Jordan
  • U.S. House: Both seats
  • State Senate: All 35 seats
  • State House: All 70 seats 

Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

Also of Interest

This story is provided by AARP Idaho. Visit the AARP Idaho page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.