Elections

Election 2016: Long waits in some rural Idaho counties

Election 2016: Idaho voters have their say

Idaho voters make their voices heard in the 2016 election at polling places in Ada County.
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Idaho voters make their voices heard in the 2016 election at polling places in Ada County.

As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the wait to vote at the Garden Valley precinct in Boise County was an hour to 90 minutes.

That surprised County Clerk Mary Prisco, who said staff expected rushes before and after work. None of the county's other six precincts have that kind of wait time as of midafternoon.

All 17 precincts in Elmore County are busy. But in particular, voters should expect a wait at precinct 8, which includes southern Mountain Home, said County Clerk Barb Steele.

That’s Elmore County’s largest precinct, with more than 1,400 registered voters.

Among other things, Elmore County residents Tuesday will elect a new sheriff.

More than 50 voters packed the small library at Ustick Elementary School in West Boise as the polls opened Tuesday.

The last time the polling place was this busy was 2008, when Barack Obama ran against John McCain.

At Eagle Elementary School the principal had to bring in a police officer to direct traffic to handle the influx of voters and parents dropping their kids off for school.

The line at Siena Elementary School in Meridian, one of the busiest polling places in the Treasure Valley, stretched the length of the school’s gym before the polls opened.

And one West Boise church parking lot was so jammed with voters’ cars, it could have been mistaken for people headed to Easter services.

Across Ada County voting was off to a brisk start, Phil McGrane, Ada County chief deputy clerk, said Tuesday morning. But it’s too early, he added, to tell whether that high volume will hold throughout the day.

In the past year and a half, American voters have been presented with historic surprises and scandals from their presidential nominees. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's promises of "making America great again" and being "stronger together" have

Among the first to cast a ballot at Ustick Elementary was Victoria Heaton, 42, of Boise. “I was so proud to vote today for Hillary Clinton,” she said. “This is a historic vote today because we have the most qualified candidate ever for president.”

“I hope she can bring more unity. It’s been so divisive for the last eight years,” Heaton said.

Heaton, her husband Jason, 45, and daughter Alyssa, voting in her first presidential election, all cast ballots for Clinton.

[Related: Here’s when to beat the lines at Treasure Valley polling places.]

“I was just happy to vote and get it over with,” said Alyssa, 21. “It’s been a year of this. I am just excited to stop hearing about Donald Trump.”

At the Sunrise Cafe in downtown Meridian, diners gave Trump got better reviews.

Mike Holmes, who sells real estate, took advantage of early voting to cast his ballot for Trump, in part because he is “the only one that hasn’t been living off the government all their life.”

[Related: Haven’t voted yet? Check out our voter guide before you go.]

But even voting for Trump left Holmes with an uncomfortable feeling. The Clinton-Trump matchup is the “saddest” election, he said. “This is what we get to choose from.”

Joel Morden, sitting at the table with Holmes, found another choice. He cast his ballot early for Evan McMullin, the last-minute independent candidate out of Utah “to make an itty-bitty statement,” he said.

He wasn’t alone. Ed Emmel of Boise skipped the major candidates for the first time since he started voting and wrote in the name of Ben Carson, the physician who was among the 16 other Republican candidates Trump defeated in the Republican primary. Emmel was not even sure if Carson’s name will count. But that doesn’t make any difference. He was repulsed by the negative campaigning of Trump and Clinton and the lack of civility that pervaded the run-up to Election Day.

Carson “represents my interests the most,” Emmel said. “I like him the best.”

Bill Roberts is visiting polling places this morning. Check back for updates.

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