Idaho confirms general election results


The Idaho state electoral body voted 3-0 Wednesday to confirm the results of the state’s general election.

As part of the campaigning and certification, the State Board of Campaigners met at the Idaho State Capitol, received a report from the Office of the Secretary of State, and received election data and results from all counties in the state.

Prior to confirming the election results, the State Board of Candidates also reviewed the results of audits of election results from eight Idaho counties.

None of the legislative or national races have been changed as a result of auditing or solicitation. Additionally, no statewide or legislative races were within 0.1% or five votes, which is the threshold in Idaho law to qualify for a free recount.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the results we’re having,” said Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, a member of the Idaho State Candidates Committee, when the election results were confirmed. “We as an electoral office always like to see big margins because there is such a thing as human error. I don’t think we’ve ever had a perfect choice, but that’s what we strive for.”

The unanimous vote to confirm means that the results of the Nov. 8 general election in Idaho are now official for the first time.

The Idaho State Board of Acquisitions is composed, under Idaho law, of the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, and the State Controller. All three members, including Denney, State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth and State Controller Brandon Woolf, attended the meeting and vote.

The additional data released with the campaign advertisements showed that statewide voter turnout was 56.8% and 44,285 Idahoans registered to vote on Election Day. The county with the highest turnout was Camas County with 69% turnout. The county with the lowest turnout was Madison County with 38.6% turnout. Madison County is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho, and state election officials speculated that one reason for Madison County’s lower turnout might be that large numbers of students were registering for the 2020 presidential election at the time and then either not voted this year or moved out of town but have yet to be cleared from electoral rolls.

Now that the results are certified, candidates have 20 days to request a recount under Idaho law. Because none of the results were close enough to qualify for a free recount, any candidate requesting a recount would have to pay $100 per district being recounted.

Idaho election officials identified three ‘challenges’

Although Denney said he was pleased with the overall results, he and his staff said there were three challenges on election night.

Two of these occurred in Jerome County. One problem was that Jerome County incorrectly printed ballots that featured an independent candidate who had withdrawn from the Idaho District 26 Senate race. About 500 early and mail-in voters from Jerome County received those bogus ballots, and 25 people cast their ballots for that candidate, Assistant Secretary of State Jason Hancock said. Those 25 votes didn’t count as voters marked a bubble for a candidate who didn’t run for office, Hancock said. In that race, Democrat Ron C. Taylor defeated Republican Laurie Lickley by a margin of 513 votes, 8,117 to 7,604. Hancock said the 25 votes for the uneligible candidate weren’t even close to enough to affect the outcome of the race either way.

Jerome County also had a second challenge on Election Day. Jerome County officials initially did not include early voting when sending results to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Officials said that was a reporting error, not a counting error, and that the issue reversed what initially looked like a Democratic victory but was actually a Republican Jack Nelsen victory, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported.

Eventually, Teton County officials found an additional box of uncounted ballot cards after already reporting election results. The box contained 402 ballots and has since been counted. The new vote numbers did not change the outcome of those races, the Sun previously reported.

Idaho is taking several steps to secure election results

Wednesday’s enlistment and certification are just one of the steps taken to protect the Idaho election.

Prior to the election, county officials conducted logic and accuracy tests, testing and demonstrating ballot-scoring equipment to the public and answering questions from the news media and Idahoans about the process.

Beginning Saturday, Idaho State Department officials conducted an audit of election results from eight Idaho counties selected in a random, lottery-style drawing.

Each of Iaho’s 44 counties also collected and validated their own election results.

Idaho’s largest county, Ada County, was one of eight counties selected for by-election testing.

“We are pleased with the results of the review,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, who was also elected Idaho Secretary of State, said in a written statement. “We work hard to ensure the greatest possible integrity in elections. At a time when we are seeing an increase in questions about elections, these audits help build trust in the process. Ada County voters can rest assured that their votes count. We test our devices extensively before an election to ensure the accuracy of the results. The audit shows that the process is working as intended.”

The other seven counties audited include Bonner, Bonneville, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Minidoka, Oneida, and Shoshone. As part of the inventory portion of the audit, the Secretary of State’s office identified two ballots that were not recorded in Oneida County and one ballot that was not recorded in Ada County. Officials said these results were within their margins of error and would not affect race results.

There were no unrecorded ballots in Bonner, Bonneville, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Minidoka, or Shoshone counties.

The Idaho Capital Sun can be found online at idahocapitalsun.com.

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