- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court and every elected post in the Idaho Legislature are up for grabs Tuesday. But the key question will be just how many Idahoans show up to participate in this year’s primary election?

It’s been nearly two months since Idahoans cast their vote for their top presidential picks, leaving the rest of the down ballot seats without an attention-grabbing race to attract voters to the polls. That’s leaving some nervous that far-right candidates may have a better chance of winning against moderate incumbents.

Voter turnout in Idaho has hovered around 25 percent among registered voters in recent primary election cycles. But until this year, Idaho’s primary elections have typically been attached to a presidential or gubernatorial election, which tend to draw larger crowds.

That all stopped after the Republican-dominated Idaho Legislature agreed in 2015 to move up the GOP presidential primary to March. This allowed Idaho to play a slightly bigger role in the presidential race, but it’s unclear how big of an effect it’ll have on state races.

“I think there is a chance that voters might be confused by these two primaries,” said Jim Weatherby, an Idaho political analyst. “They may not want to participate in another election or think they have already voted.”

Low voter turnout tends to benefit activist voters because they are usually more involved in upcoming elections, Weatherby said. In Idaho, this means the more far-right opponents hoping to oust incumbents.

Furthermore, more than 60 legislative candidates face no opponents at all in the primary election - 30 of whom will face no competition in the general election, almost guaranteeing them a seat in the Idaho Legislature for the next two years.

That could play poorly for the four candidates vying to win a spot on the state’s highest court.

Candidates include Clive Strong, a longtime deputy attorney general; Curt McKenzie, a seven-term Republican state senator; Robyn Brody, an attorney from Rupert; and Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez.

It’s the top statewide race on the ballot, but the little-known judicial position historically hasn’t drawn voters, despite multiple public forums and debates and thousands of dollars spent on advertising.

Idaho is one of just two states with no supreme court justices who are female or people of color.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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