Election Day: How to beat — or shorten — voting lines

The line of voters stretched to the door at Ustick Baptist Church in Boise on Tuesday morning.
The line of voters stretched to the door at Ustick Baptist Church in Boise on Tuesday morning. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

For many voters, the upcoming election will be a bit of a brave new world.

New voting systems and methods have been in place for the past two elections — this year’s March and May primaries. But because most voters turn out only in presidential years, “a vast majority of voters have not seen the new equipment,” said Deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane.

McGrane said Monday that more than 71,000 people have already voted in Ada County, either in-person or by mail. That could be more than one-third of the total expected turnout.

The early turnout also could shorten Election Day lines. In one precinct in Boise’s 18th District, half of the electorate has already voted, McGrane said.

Statewide, more than 193,000 people have voted early or by absentee as of Monday morning, said state Election Director Betsie Kimbrough. That’s about 24 percent of registered voters.

193,421Statewide early voting and absentee ballots received as of Monday morning

Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out where to vote or where the candidates stand on the issues, visit IdahoStatesman.com.

How can you speed yourself through Election Day balloting?

1. Pick the right time to vote.

The new computerized voting system delivers exacting detail on the ebb and flow of voters on Election Day, with surprising results. The data are literally down to the second.

“We’ve spent a lot of time researching lines,” McGrane said. “We even distribute our supplies in a way that handles those lines.”

It’s long been an article of faith among poll watchers that there are three heavy times for voting throughout Election Day: morning, lunchtime and after work. Actually, according to results tracked over the past two elections, the only consistently and exceptionally busy time is right after the regular workday, 5 to 7 p.m.

Morning is relatively light. Noon is the third-lightest hour of the day; 9 a.m. is the second-lightest.

The emptiest hour, if you can make it? Vote at 3 p.m.

2. Voting in person? Bring your documents.

Bring your photo ID to the polls if you don’t want to spend time filling out an affidavit affirming who you are. Once you’ve filled in your two-page ballot, Ada County has calculated the average time it takes for you to put it through the scanner: 24 seconds.

3. Registering to vote on Election Day? Same rules apply.

Bring your documents, which must include valid photo ID (state-issued, tribal card, passport or student ID) and proof of residency (examples are bank statement, vehicle registration, utility bill). Besides being 18 years old on Election Day and a U.S. citizen, you must have lived at your current address for at least 30 days and provide either a state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Felons who have completed the terms of their sentences are eligible to vote.

4. Find out how it turns out.

Follow the news throughout the day and get reaction and analysis on Election Night at IdahoStatesman.com.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

Early voting in Ada

Ada County this year had five early voting locations, not just one. That included a mobile voting “food truck” that saw more than 5,000 voters cast ballots.

Of the 27,000 absentee ballots mailed out, 23,500 have been completed and sent in, said Deputy Chief Clerk Phil McGrane.

Here’s the breakdown by location:

Elections HQ


Meridian City Hall


Boise City Hall


Eagle Senior Center


Mobile Voting Unit


Total in-person




Overall total