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Ada election workers prepare to count early ballots

Seventy Ada County election workers opened 23,000 mail in ballots Monday, preparing them to be counted Tuesday, election day. (CBS 2)

The first step in this great exercise of democracy called an election is pretty simple: open up the mail in ballots.

But it's a little more complicated than that because there are 23,000 envelopes coming into Ada County elections headquarters from all over the world.

It takes as many as 70 Ada County election workers -- and several hours -- to get the job done.

"Under Idaho law we can't begin actually counting them until tomorrow election day," said David Levine, Ada County elections director. "But in order to count them all, we need to get them into position so they're ready to be counted. So here's what we're doing, preparing them to be counted."

And remember, the ballot this election is two pages so workers are actually sorting 46,000 sheets of paper, each one the free expression of a voter's will.

The ballots won't be counted until Tuesday and the results won't be released until 9 p.m. election night.

"Idaho straddles two time zones," said Levine. "And per the Secretary of State's directive, they don't want us being in a position to be releasing results in one time zone before the polls close in another."

Statewide, the Idaho Secretary of State's Office reports some 153,000 voters have cast early ballots, with 15,000 mail ballots yet to be returned.

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