More Idaho voters are turning out for statewide elections than ever before, but many counties lag behind the U.S. average, according to data from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.
The Pew Research Center puts average voting rate in the U.S. at about 56 percent.
Residents of small, sparsely populated counties in the state consistently cast the most votes per capita, while mid-sized counties in southern Idaho often have the fewest, according to analysis of data from recent statewide balloting.
“It appears that people in the mountains vote the most,” said Phil McGrane, Ada County’s chief deputy clerk.
Custer, Camas and Butte counties consistently come out on top. In some elections, nearly three-quarters of eligible voters cast ballots there, the Idaho Statesman reported .
“In general, rural counties tend to be older than urban ones,” said Jeff Lyons, an assistant professor in the School of Public Service at Boise State University. “And we know older people vote more than younger people.”
Many of the more active voting communities have strong agricultural and farming ties, professions that are politically engaged.
The majority of the state’s counties are Republican.
Despite low showings for many Idaho counties, Lyons said the state can be proud of its voter turnout.
“For a non-presidential battleground state, we do have pretty solid turnout numbers,” he said. “It’s pretty civically engaged, pretty participatory.”