Tuesday night proved to be both typical, yet unexpected for Idahoans across the state.
Prior to Election Day, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office reported 155,000 absentee ballots counted, a 56 percent hike from 2014 and 2010, according to Boise State Public Radio.
While a record number of voters cast their ballots to shape Idaho’s future, the results were somewhat consistent with the way Idahoans have voted in the past.
Brad Little (R) easily captured the governor’s race ahead of Paulette Jordan (D). Sherri Ybarra (R) was re-elected as Idaho’s super-intendent of public instruction, despite a late push from Cindy Wilson (D) supporters.
Finally, the “liberal cesspool” of Latah County gave Sen. Dan Foreman (R) the boot, voting instead for temperament and respect in candidate David Nelson (D).
To say turnout was encouraging would be an understatement. Across the country, young people everywhere backed their years of protests and movements with filled-in ballots, constructing younger and more diverse federal and state governments.
However, here in the Gem State, that same change was less apparent outside of the Nelson-Foreman race.
Little’s win shows Idaho is not ready for drastic change. The state consisting of an overwhelming conservative demographic once again refused a liberal governor, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has observed Idaho politics for decades. While financially the state has operated efficiently, Tuesday was a chance for the underrepresented constituents of Idaho to transform their home’s narrative. It was an opportunity to ultimately push Idaho into the future, a future that will become harder to reach each year we don’t find change.
While the results were not surprising, they should be concerning. The nation as a whole turned, however slowly, toward change on Tuesday.
Officials like Ybarra and Little, however, represent the past. They are from an Idaho that no longer serves a purpose to its current residents. Like an outdated software, they are leaders incapable of keeping up with a drastically changing electorate.
So while 2018 proved more of the same of the Gem State, the future does remain bright. With high turnout in districts consisting largely of college students, civic engagement from Idaho’s youngest will continue to drive politics in a new and exciting direction.
For the young voters, for the first-time voters, stay encouraged. Change will come eventually. Even if the pendulum of politics did not swing toward change this time around, there’s always tomorrow.
More candidates who see the endless possibilities of a young and excited electorate will come out of the woodwork, and eventually change will come.
Stay focused. Stay engaged. Above all, stay hopeful.
We’ll see you in 2020.
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