Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Here's what knocked former clerk off chair

| April 14, 2021 1:00 AM

The old election guy wasn’t looking for an earthquake, but he found one anyway.

Dan English, a member of the Coeur d’Alene City Council who served with distinction as Kootenai County clerk and, as such, the county’s top election official, was recently doing a numerical postmortem on the November general election.

“The old election guy,” as he whimsically calls himself, “fell off his chair” while analyzing the numbers from Coeur d’Alene.

Get this: According to English’s deep dive, 72.7 percent of registered voters in Coeur d’Alene have been registered there for five or fewer years.

Let that sink in a minute. As of late March, 33,009 registered voters in Coeur d’Alene had been registered there for no more than five years.

“I know we’ve had a lot of in-migration but didn’t realize that the numbers are in earthquake proportions,” English said.

According to English, here’s what those rumblings suggest.

“I haven’t really begun to process the ramifications … but it means four out of five voters hardly have any local history. The most prevalent voter in Cd'A is between 56-65 years old and has been here less than five years. Now, some may have moved from the county or other local places and have connections to kids and schools, etc., but many came here for other reasons.”

It’s that lack of local knowledge and background that concerns the old election guy most, and it should. If there were a groundswell of young Coeur d’Alene residents getting excited about the presidential election and being motivated enough to register — many for the first time — that would be encouraging. But the old election guy broke down registrations by age, and they continue the trend of older likely outweighing the young.

Here’s what English found:

18-25 years old: 2,294 people (6.9%)

26-35: 4,328 (13%)

36-45: 4,994 (15%)

46-55: 5,560 (16.7%)

56-65: 6,026 (18.1%)

66-75: 5,860 (17.6%)

76-85: 2,996 (9%)

86-105: 766 (2.3%)

Keep in mind that English’s research involved Coeur d’Alene registrations, not voters. Throughout Kootenai County, 103,552 people registered for the November election, and 90,529 cast ballots.

That's an A+ for turnout. The grade for comprehension from a local perspective? Let's call that one incomplete.