Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mailing it in makes massive sense

| May 20, 2020 4:00 PM

With so many people out of work or working from home, maybe they couldn’t help but notice a springtime election creeping up on them.

Hey, reality has to encroach on Netflix at some point, right?

In what might be hailed as a rare gift from the novel coronavirus, Idaho voters have awakened — and an optimist can hope they’ll never be quite the same.

Gov. Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, outfoxing COVID-19, ordered an all-absentee primary election to preserve poll workers and voters alike. But that raised a big question: How many traditional get-out-and-vote citizens would switch to the more convenient but perhaps less personal or fulfilling method of voting by mail?

Turns out, plenty.

More than ever, as a matter of fact.

We won’t know until June 2 or June 3 how many, precisely, but even before Tuesday’s deadline to request ballots had passed, the state had shattered every primary election participation record on the books.

Is this a sign of things to come, or a one-off?

Should it become a staple of Idaho citizens selecting people to represent them at the local, state and federal levels?

Some will argue that turnout is meaningless, that the real barometer is not the number of votes but the number of informed voters. That sounds reasonable — and impossible ever to determine.

Until constitutions are amended to test prospective voters on their ability to comprehend planks and platforms, to sniff out conspiracy theories and blatant political b.s. — heck, until the average American can pass an eighth-grade level state and federal civics exam — simply meeting bare minimum voting requirements will always be the order of the day. Yet participation on a broader scale generally leads to better overall representation, or so our founding fathers believed.

The buzz generated from this historic primary election will benefit the state to the degree that it grows legs and leads to serious discussions and maybe even decisions on making our electoral process more inclusive. Emphasis on absentee is absolutely an option.