Think back to the first time you voted in an election. How did you feel when you heard the poll worker announce that you had voted and handed you a sticker to put on your lapel? Idahoans work hard to ensure safe and secure elections occur at the state level, the county level, and the precinct level. With the Idaho Primary Election scheduled for May 17th, let’s take a quick look at the responsibilities and duties from the state level to the county level regarding elections.

The Idaho Legislature writes laws determining how to oversee and administer elections in Idaho. Idaho Code also provides checks and balances to ensure proper compliance, county election records retention, an appeals process, and grievance procedures. There are many procedural security measures in place for the elections including on the voting equipment used. All election equipment is certified by the Secretary of State for use in Idaho.

The Idaho Secretary of State is considered the Chief Election Officer. As such, the Secretary is responsible for obtaining and maintaining uniformity in the application, operation, and interpretation of elections laws.

Secretary of State: Responsibilities & Duties (§34-201 through 205, Idaho Code)

  • Responsible for providing information regarding voter registration procedures and absentee ballot procedures.
  • Distributes written detailed comprehensive directives and instructions relating to election laws to all county clerks including such things as sample forms of ballots, papers, documents, records, and other materials and supplies required by election laws.
  • Develops and provides county clerk instructions regarding signature verification, and voter registration cards.
  • Assists and advises county clerks regarding the application, operation, and interpretation of election laws.
  • Conducts multiple conferences on the administration of election laws which the county clerk or designee is required to attend at least once between each general election cycle.
  • Distributes appropriate sample forms of supplies and materials necessary to conduct elections as the Secretary considers appropriate including poll books, tally sheets, and abstract of vote sheets.

County clerks are responsible for the actual administration and supervision of election laws. Idaho Code also specifies requirements for county clerks to ensure uniformly administered, safe and secure elections.

County Clerk: Responsibilities & Duties (§34-206 through 217, Idaho Code)

  • In accordance with directives and instructions given by the Secretary of State, county clerks exercise general supervision of the administration of election laws by each local election official in their county to achieve and maintain a maximum degree of correctness, impartiality, efficiency, and uniformity by local election officials.
  • Requires each local election official to use ballots, papers, documents, records, and other materials and supplies as directed by the Secretary of State.
  • Requires each local election official to submit reports about the administration of election laws by such local election officials.
  • Inspects and observes administration of election laws by any local election official in the county at any time the clerk deems necessary.
  • Carries out a program of in-service training for local election officials including distributing bulletins, manuals, and other information instructional materials and conducting instructional classes about administering election laws.

In addition to the required elections training, all elections officials, from elected officials to local poll workers, take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Idaho.