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Clerk: Local elections run according to law

| April 22, 2010 7:06 AM

By DAN ENGLISH

Special to The Press

There appears to be a great gulf of difference in the conclusions that have been drawn by some regarding last November’s election for the City of Coeur d’Alene. That election was conducted by the Kootenai County Elections Department and was one of the largest combined elections we have ever run.

Last November’s election was essentially no different than the many other elections we have conducted over the years. It went well. Many steps go into the average election and there are numerous “moving parts.” There are possibly tens of thousands of ballots being prepared, printed, mailed and received, voted, and ultimately counted. 

The voting process is supervised by hundreds of your neighbors and friends who serve as poll workers and our election staff. Our staff and poll workers have a well-deserved reputation for accurate and honest elections where we treat all voters, candidates, party officials, and the media with respect. We always strive for a 100 percent error free election. With so many human and other variables it’s unrealistic to think you will always hit that mark but that is always our goal. Each election cycle we learn some things to do better for the future.

At this time, we are in the midst of a legal challenge. Clearly, this is a process that moves on its own timeline. My staff and I are fully cooperating with both candidates and their legal staff. We have done so based on the advice of our county legal staff and the directives of the Court. We have followed Idaho Code to our fullest ability and understanding. We are not hiding anything or delaying the process. We do not favor either candidate but we do stand behind our work product and the outcome of the election.

Every vote cast in Kootenai County is a valuable and meaningful vote. My staff follows prescribed procedures to maintain as accurate and up-to-date registry of voters as possible. In the rare cases that we have ever seen voter behavior that could rise to the level of actual fraud that information has been forwarded to the county Prosecutor’s Office for review.

We do not have “a bunch of illegal Canadians” voting in our elections. What we do have is a federal law that protects the voting rights of U.S. citizens living in other countries, whether they are military, missionaries, retirees, or whatever. By federal law, American citizens living abroad retain their voting rights, and their voter registration is tied to a specific place: city, county, state and nation. This law gives no time restrictions. We do not have multiple classes of voters in Idaho. If someone is a registered voter then they get to vote in any local election they are qualified for, not just the federal elections.

We have an elections office in Kootenai County and a voting process that you can and should be proud of. We have been at the forefront of many legislative changes to improve the integrity and accuracy of all elections. I am proud of my personal efforts to date and particularly of my fellow election staff and poll workers. We are always open to improvements including sincere constructive criticism. In some cases, it might be something we can address or change at the local level.  However, most of our election procedures come from Idaho Code so they must be addressed by the legislature or Secretary of State and are not optional decisions that can be made by a County Clerk.  Any changes to federal voting rights, including the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Voting Act, would literally take an act of Congress to change. 

If you would like more information or have questions please feel free to contact me or my elections staff directly.

Dan English is Kootenai County Clerk.

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