by Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (ID)
Today is primary election day for all non-presidential races in Idaho and many groups across the state are urging voters to make their voices heard.
The races to be decided include school bond measures, the makeup of the state Supreme Court, and many state legislators who could influence future decisions on issues like expanding health care and education funding.
Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, says a new report shows Idaho is falling behind, as one of only five states that doesn't fund pre-kindergarten programs.
"There's a lot of contested races, and we want to make sure everyone we're voting for is supporting our youngest children," she says. "So, we're hoping in January that we will see new elected legislators take early childhood education seriously."
Idaho had record turnout for the presidential primaries in March, 227,000 Republicans and 24,000 Democrats. But during the last three presidential election years, the General Election turnout exceeded the state's primary turnout by more than 50 percent.
Kip Winter, a member of the Boise/Treasure Valley chapter of the League of Women Voters, says people who skip the primaries might not get candidates willing to work together for a functioning democracy.
"Only the candidates who are the best well-known or the most extreme will have enough turnout to win that nomination," says Winter. "And you might not get the kind of candidate who will be willing to work within the entire system."
Polls are open today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your polling place, look online at Idahovotes.gov.