The 2021 Bonneville County election had a predictably low voter turnout Tuesday compared to previous elections in which there were no statewide or national races on the ballot; however, the county also saw more residents voting in a local election than usual.
“We had a good turnout,” said Bonneville County elections supervisor Brenda Prudent. “Our fire district (and school districts) were up there. People just were more interested on the local level.”
The 2021 ballot featured local city and county elections exclusively, which typically receive less voter turnout than presidential and legislative elections.
Prudent said the county had 11,699 of its 59,267 registered voters cast ballots in the election, which was 19.8% of registered voters who participated in the election. This is roughly 5% more participation that what the county has seen in the last decade for local elections, according to election results from the county’s website.
The Bonneville County election in 2019, which featured various city council seats and school board trustee positions up for grabs, saw about 12% to 14% of voters submitting ballots in most of the elections. A significant exception came from Swan Valley voters, which had a turnout of more than 56% of registered voters in 2019 for two city council seats and mayor elections.
“I think people are realizing that these local elections are very important,” Prudent said. “Every vote counts.”
The 2020 election which featured former Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden saw 54,629 ballots cast in the county. The election in 2020 saw record voter turnout nationwide with 17 million more people voting than the 2016 election recorded, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In Bonneville County, 78% of registered voters turned in ballots for the 2020 election, which was 54,529 ballots. That was nearly 10,000 more ballots than the 2016 election (45,024), although the percentage of participation from registered voters was nearly the same at 77%.
The Idaho Press reported Idaho had a record for voter turnout in the 2020 election. The state saw 81.2% of its 1.08 million registered voters cast ballots and more than half of them were early.
Prudent said there also were more mailed in ballots in the 2021 election and was about double than what the county has seen in similar elections.
“It was probably the highest mailing (turnout) for municipal and smaller elections,” Prudent said. “Our early voting was also up for this type of election.”
Nearly all the incumbents who ran in the 2021 election retained their positions, according to unofficial county results. Bonneville Joint School District 93 incumbent trustee Scott Lynch and Iona City Council incumbent Kathy McNamara were the two that lost their races.