Some Boiseans Have Been Assigned New Polling Places. Here's Why 

click to enlarge - Some Boiseans received letters telling them their voting places have been relocated. -  - GRACE KURAITIS
  • Grace Kuraitis
  • Some Boiseans received letters telling them their voting places have been relocated.
Some Boiseans checked their mailboxes in recent weeks and learned Ada County Elections had changed their voting places. Don't worry, though, it's on the up-and-up.

"[At first] I was just kind of horrified that this kind of mistake could be made," said Grace Kuraitis, who lives in District 19 but learned she'd have to cast her ballot in District 18.

In a letter from Ada County Elections dated Oct. 14, Kuraitis was directed away from her former polling place—a retirement community on Parkcenter Boulevard—to a new one at Ada County Indigent Services in Civic Plaza near the Ada County Courthouse. The new location is outside her precinct, which caused her some concern, as she'd received the letter Nov. 3—days after the absentee ballot due date of Oct. 28.

"Some people aren't persistent and, if they show up at their voting place and there's nobody there, they could just go home," Kuraitis said.

Five polling places have been changed by the elections authority but, according to Ada County Clerk Chief Deputy Phil McGrane, shifting locations is fairly common. What's more, he said, the senior center where Kuraitis has voted in the past is "grossly inadequate" for voting in a presidential election year.

"The space that they have us in is slightly larger than a conference room," McGrane said. "One of those precincts will continue to vote at that facility and the other is being relocated."

Nearly 180,000 people in Ada County cast ballots in 2012, generating long lines and waits at polling places. Of the nearly 220,000 registered voters in Ada County, approximately 190,000 people are expected to vote this election season. Ada County Elections officials hoped 60,000 people would vote early, but early turnout is likely to be even higher, with up to 70,000 early votes cast ahead of the Tuesday, Nov. 8 General Election.

"Our voting system is not designed for a 75 to 80 percent turnout," said Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich. "We're really designed for a 25 to 35 percent range, which are all of our elections except for presidential elections every four years."

Of the five voting locations that have been changed in Ada County, two have been altered because of Americans with Disabilities Act considerations. Others have been changed for community convenience or lack of availability.

The situation is further complicated by voting districts being reapportioned due to population shifts. Many voters' polling locations may change again following a redistricting process set to begin in January 2017.

For convenience and to relieve pressure on polling places on Election Day, Ada County has established five early voting centers, including the Ada County Elections Office, Boise City Hall, Meridian City Hall and the Eagle Senior Center.

Early voting closes Friday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m.
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