Friday’s the last day to vote early. Here’s what you need to know to vote smartly

Early voting in Ada and Canyon counties ends Friday, Nov. 1, granting residents of cities from Boise to Caldwell their last chance to skip anticipated long lines on Election Day as they vote for mayors and city council members.

In Boise, they can vote on proposed ordinances requiring elections for a proposed new main library and sports stadium.

Voters are welcome to cast their votes early if they are 18 years old, U.S. citizens and have lived in their counties of residence for at least 30 days before Election Day.

Sample ballots are available online now for you to take a look at before you go vote.

Here’s everything you need to know to vote intelligently, whether you’re voting early or on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5:

I must register to vote, right? How?

This close to the election, preregistration is no longer permitted. But you can register in person at your polling place. Once there, you must provide:

A photo identification (state issued ID, tribal card, U.S. passport or current student ID)

A state ID number or the last four digits of your social security number

Proof of residency (vehicle registration, current utility bill, bank statement, etc.)

You’ll need to register if you’re new to the area or if your address has changed since you last voted. For future elections, you can register to vote online.

You’ll be offered the option to affiliate with a political party.

Not sure if you’re registered to vote at your current address? Check your Idaho registration through the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

Felons may not register until they have completed the terms of their sentences.

I’m already registered. What do I need to vote?

Bring an ID such as a driver’s license, state ID card, tribal card, U.S. passport or student ID. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to sign a “personal identification affidavit.”

You have a right to ask for help from poll workers or to bring someone with you to help you vote. Poll workers can read you your ballot and help you mark your section.

Hayley Harding

Where do I go to early vote?

Ada County: Go to the Ada County Elections office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane (it shares a parking lot with the Ada County Driver License office) any weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 1. There is an option for weekend voting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Or, go to Boise City Hall or Meridian City Hall weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 1.

Ada County will roll out its “Mobile Voting Center” to high-traffic areas to print ballots on demand for those who want to vote early. The trailer runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will be at Eagle City Hall.

Canyon County: Vote on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, Nov. 1 at the Canyon County Elections Office, 1102 E. Chicago St. in Caldwell.

Can I vote without going to a polling place?

Yes. You cannot vote online, but you can vote by mail. That’s called absentee voting. You must request an absentee ballot, which you can mail in. To be counted, your signed request must be received by your county elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, so be sure to mail it at least a few days in advance. If you don’t, you’ll need to bring the ballot to the elections office, not your polling place.

Request an absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at any county elections office, or online at those offices or the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

Ada County: Return your ballot to Ada County Elections, 400 N. Benjamin Lane, Suite 100, Boise, ID 83704.

Canyon County: Return your ballot to the Elections Office at 1102 E. Chicago St., Caldwell, ID 83605.

Where is my polling place?

Ada County: Enter your address on the Ada County website to learn your polling place. The site will also tell you the nearest early voting location.

By clicking “view details,” you can take a look at a sample ballot that should look just like the ballot you get when you go to vote.

If you have a disability that makes it hard to stand in line or access your polling place, you can ask a poll work to vote curbside. If you choose to do that, a poll worker will bring you your ballot outside the polling place or to your car. There are also special terminals at each polling place for those who have a hard time seeing or marking ballots.

Canyon County has a site similar to Ada County’s. Even if you’ve voted in Canyon County before, make sure you look up your polling place — nearly two dozen polling places have changed locations since the last election.

Who and what is on my ballot?

Check out a sample ballot first.

Ada County: Search “Ada County what’s on my ballot” online. Click on “View My Ballot - Elections - Ada County” in your search results. Then click on “View Your Ballot.”

Canyon County: Search “Canyon County what’s on my ballot” online. Click on “Elections | Canyon County” in your search results. Then click on “What’s on my ballot?”

I want to be smart about people and issues on my ballot.

This is where the Idaho Statesman can help.

Our reporting: Type “IdahoStatesman.com/Election” (no s on the end) in your browser’s search/address bar. This page is a collection of our coverage of this fall’s campaigns and elections. You’ll find stories on mayoral races, ballot measures, candidate forums, campaign financial disclosures and more, including profiles of the eight most prominent mayoral candidates in Boise and Meridian.

Read the candidates’ own words: On that page, you’ll find our Voter Guides for mayoral and city council elections in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, Kuna, Garden City, Caldwell, Star and Middleton. You’ll see pictures of the candidates and their answers to questions we asked.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
David Staats is business editor of the Idaho Statesman, which he joined in 2004. He has assigned, edited and reported business, politics, government and other Idaho stories since 2006.Get the top Idaho business stories of the week in a free email every Monday morning. Go here, then press the “Select” button under Idaho Business.