County recounts affirm primary election results

A recount of votes for two separate races in Idaho’s May 17, 2022 primary election was completed last week, affirming victories for District 9 candidate Judy Boyle and Weiser Committeeman candidate Margaret Jensen.
The Recounts
 Former District 11 Rep. Scott Syme requested a recount after losing by six votes to Judy Boyle for the Distrist 9, Seat B position in the Idaho House. Boyle received 4,636 votes to Syme’s 4,630, the closest legislative primary election result in the state this year.
 As a result of the 2021 redistricting process, which involved redrawing Idaho’s political boundaries based on population, Syme and Boyle, both incumbents, were grafted into the same district, which now encompasses Washington, Payette, and Canyon counties.
 Since the margin of victory was less than .1 percent, the recount is free for Syme, according to Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck. Results show that Boyle won by a margin of 50.03 percent to Syme’s 49.97 percent. 
 Idaho law provides that the state will pay for recounts within a .1 percent margin or a five vote difference. Otherwise, the cost for a recount is $100 per precinct.
 “I don’t expect that the numbers will change, but this process should assure the public that our elections are sound and secure,” Syme told the Weiser Signal American Wednesday morning.
 Recounts for the Syme-Boyle race in all three counties matched official results, affirming Boyle’s victory.
 “We did our recount on Tuesday and there were no inconsistencies,” said Canyon County Public Information Officer, Joe Decker.
 Payette County completed its recount on Thursday.
The Process
 Requests for recounts go through the Attorney General’s office, which orders the county’s sheriff to immediately impound and take into custody all ballots for the election, which, up to that point, would be in the possession of the county clerk.
 Once in custody, the Attorney General orders a recount, setting a time and location in coordination with the county clerk.
 The recount in Washington County began at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at the courthouse in Weiser. Washington County Sheriff Matt Thomas and his deputies delivered several secure, plastic totes containing the official ballots to the courthouse that morning. The blue totes, which contain the ballots and are marked by polling station, can only be opened with a key.
 Robert Berry, Deputy Attorney General for the State of Idaho, and Gary Dizon with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office were present to oversee the process.
 As with any recount, a “test deck” of ballots from a previous election are put through an electronic tabulator for what is called a “logic and accuracy” test. Once complete, and providing the test is successful, hand count and tabulator results for official ballots are matched against each other.
 Although details were not yet available at publication, it is known that the tabulator experienced a malfunction on Wednesday. It is not clear the type of malfunction or whether it occurred during the test or the official recount.
 In any event, Berry ordered another hand count in place of the malfunctioning tabulator. Results of both hand counts matched the official results.
 Washington County Deputy Clerk Michelle Hagans on Thursday said an investigation into the cause of the tabulator’s malfunction is underway and that county officials plan to meet with members of the media and others once they have answers.
 “They are still working on that,” she said, adding that the county will ultimately explain, “what happened, why it happened, and how we are solving the problem.”
 Jerod Schwab, a representative of Omaha, Neb.-based ES&S (Election Systems and Software), the company that manufactures the tabulators, was onsite during the recount but was not immediately available for comment when the Weiser Signal American returned to the courthouse to check the progress of the recount.
 Weiser committeeman candidate, Lisa Collini, who was present during the recount, did not agree with Berry’s decision to conduct a second hand-count instead of delaying the process until another machine could be secured.
 “I disagree with the decision,” she told the Weiser Signal American. “If you are going to do a recount, it should be done with the machines. We can have it another day.”
 Collini lost a narrow race against Margaret Bahns-Jensen who recorded 102 votes (50.50 percent) to Collini’s 100 votes (49.50 percent), according to official election results posted on the county’s website.
 Under Idaho law, candidates have the opportunity to appeal to the district court results of any recount within 24-hours of completion.
 

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