Robert Ehlert: Make sure you get your piece of the primary pie

May 18, 2014 

The candidates would never admit it, but at this point the opportunities to persuade people are circling the drain.

Somewhere in the chapters of the mythical "Art and Science Playbook of Politics" a theory is posited that voters respond to shrill, last-minute TV ads and pitches on the radio.

There is some science left: marshaling and directing supporters, getting out the vote and planning election night gatherings. The so-called art - the charges and rhetoric candidates fling - wear thin and now are in the annoying zone. By Wednesday, yard signs take on the lifespan of dandelions and June bugs.

Today is one of the last days we publish election-related Letters to the Editor. Our endorsements and rebuttals have appeared. In Insight today you will find an abbreviated version of the information we collected from candidates for our 2014 Treasure Valley Primary Voter Guide. There are some unvarnished truths among these submissions that should not be missed. A more complete version of the guide is at

The jury of voters yet to cast their ballots are about to enter that sequester room to weigh the evidence. We like to give them their space. That's why Monday is off-limits when it comes to electioneering unless something really bizzare develops.

With deference to anybody who votes early or makes use of an absentee ballot, I enjoy going to the polls (getting and displaying my "I Voted" sticker). When I show up at my polling place I know I am in the company of people who care about Idaho and its future. Though some are in a hurry, impromptu conversations develop. I love this about elections - and the fact that Lulu's Pizza along Bogus Basin Road, with that $5 lunch special, is right next door.

Where people vote has always intrigued me.

Though most of the time I have voted in churches and schools, there was one time my polling place was in a mobile home in a mobile home park. Years ago I did a story on the unusual places people vote. There is a precinct in Eldorado County, Calif., where the living cast ballots at a funeral home.

The more remote a precinct is - places where municipal buildings, schools and churches are scarce - the more likely you are to vote in a garage or parlor.

Prior to an election some years ago, I scoured the wide expanse of Cherry County in Nebraska - which is in the Sand Hills. Voting there at ranches and the occasional RV is a social thing. People bring hot dishes for a potluck. They linger and reconnect.

An employee at the Idaho Secretary of State's Office tells a story about a remote precinct in the Gem State. It got to be late in the day and the election official noticed one of her neighbors hadn't been by to vote. You know how she knew?

There was one piece of pie left, with this fellow's name on it.

"You better get over here," she told him. As the story goes, he did.

Voting is a slice we all need to consume.

Robert Ehlert is the Statesman's editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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