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Idaho: What to expect on election night

| November 3, 2022 10:50 AM

By The Associated Press

Republicans so dominate deeply conservative Idaho that Election Day can be anticlimactic to the GOP primary in May, where most races in the past several decades have been decided.

Republicans are looking to continue their dominance by retaining all statewide elected offices, a U.S. Senate seat, both of the state’s U.S. House seats and supermajorities in the state House and Senate.

Gov. Brad Little, a rancher with a long career in Idaho politics, overcame possibly his toughest challenge for a second term in May by crushing Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in the primary despite her endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stephen Heidt has been running a notably low-key campaign. Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, running as an independent, is well-known for participating in armed standoffs with law enforcement — at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, which left one man dead, and on federal land near his family’s ranch in Nevada in 2014.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and his fellow incumbent Republicans in Idaho's two U.S. House seats don't face robust challenges.

Voters also are choosing an attorney general and deciding on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would allow the part-time Legislature, which typically meets for three to four months a year, to call itself back into session. Currently, only the governor can call a special session.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION NIGHT

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time. Most of Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone (polls close at 10 p.m. ET), and 10 counties in the northern part of the state are in the Pacific Time Zone (poll close at 11 p.m. ET). The AP won't make any race calls until after 11 p.m. ET.

HOW IDAHO VOTES

Idaho has historically voted mostly in-person on Election Day, with only 20-30% of the total vote coming from people voting early.

Ada, Kootenai and Canyon are the counties to watch due to their size. In 2018, Ada (home to Boise) accounted for 31.4% of total votes. Canyon had 10.5% of the votes and Kootenai had 9.34%. Together the three counties represented just over half the statewide vote.

Republicans have a registration advantage in every county. Statewide, there are nearly five times more registered Republicans than Democrats.

DECISION NOTES

AP will tabulate and declare winners in 67 contested races in Idaho, including 10 statewide races and 2 U.S. House races.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.

Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a potential recount to change the outcome.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. The AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?

A: Voters in the deeply conservative state sent mixed signals in the primary, rejecting a far-right candidate challenging Little but ousting the long-time Republican attorney general in favor of a candidate who indicated he will run the office in a more partisan manner.

Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?

A: Spurred by bogus claims of widespread fraud, Idaho has added a post-election audit of ballots chosen randomly from precincts in eight counties. Idaho lawmakers unanimously established the audit this year as part of a new law whose backers said it was intended to increase public confidence in election results.

The law was passed after MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell made unsubstantiated claims and floated conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election in multiple states to undermine voter confidence in the outcome. That extended to Idaho even though Trump won the deeply conservative state with nearly 64% of the vote.

Officials used the system after the May primary and found only a handful of variations in some 20,000 ballots.

Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

A: Results are usually available Tuesday evening, but in some counties can stretch into the following day. While Idaho does not count absentee ballots before poll close, it does process them beforehand. This helps the state wrap up voting quickly.

In 2020, Idaho counted about half the vote within an hour of polls closing. It took seven hours to report 100% of the vote.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?

A: There is no mandatory recount law in Idaho, but candidates may request a recount. A candidate can request a recount no matter the size of the vote margin, but a margin of less than or equal to 0.1% of the total vote, or 5 total votes, allows for a free recount paid for by the state.

If the margin is larger than 0.1%, the candidate requesting the recount must pay for it. To start a recount, the candidate must request it within 20 days of the canvass.


Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections