Bingham County residents throng to GOP caucus sites

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Hudson and 88-year-old Lamar Robertson represented the wide spectrum of participants in Bingham County's portion of the Idaho Republican Caucus on Tuesday.
"I think it's kind of exciting," Robertson said after casting his vote in what could potentially have been several rounds. Candidates who got less than 15 percent of the vote in each round were eliminated until a winner was declared.
"My government teacher said it was a good idea for us to get out and vote," said Hudson, a Blackfoot High School senior. "It's nice that I can vote even though I'm just 18."
Over 800 cast their votes at BHS, one of four caucus sites in the county. Aberdeen had 172, Shelley had 937 and Snake River had over 600. County Republicans cast at total of 2,566 votes.
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won nearly 85 percent of the votes in the county while U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) claimed just over 8 percent.
"This is a really good thing," said Tim Rainsdon as he and his wife Brittany finished casting their vote. "It used to be our vote was after the candidate was chosen. Now we get to have a say on who the candidate is."
Tony and Julie Christiansen were among the others who made their choice known through the ballot box.
"We're excited to participate in a caucus where we've never been able to do that before," Julie said.
"It's different," said Cory Potter after he cast his ballot. "It seems easier and a bit quicker."
Members of the county central committee decided to use poker chips as the ballot markers during the successive rounds, making the count fairly quick.
"For the first time Idaho's vote is going a long way toward deciding the Republicans' next presidential candidate," county chairman Scott Reese told the audience before the night's activities began.
Before voting began a local spokesman for each candidate had an opportunity to speak in their behalf.