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Poll worker charged

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | February 8, 2022 1:09 AM

REFER:

Prosecuting attorney answers criticism, C1

COEUR d’ALENE — A criminal case has been filed against a poll worker accused of misconduct during November’s local elections.

Laura L. Van Voorhees of Hayden is charged with electioneering, an offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

The criminal complaint stems from Nov. 2, 2021, when former Coeur d’Alene school board member and retired educator Dave Eubanks said he witnessed illegal activity at a polling place in Hayden.

Eubanks said he saw a Precinct 19 poll worker, later identified as Van Voorhees, offer a voter a card printed with information about critical race theory.

Critical race theory (CRT) is an academic concept. The central idea is that race is a social construct and that racism is not just a product of individual prejudice, but also embedded in legal systems and policies.

CRT is taught at the college level, particularly in law school. The concept is not taught in local schools.

After voting, Eubanks said he approached Van Voorhees to ask about the card.

Van Voorhees allegedly confirmed the card was about CRT but argued that the topic was not political and was therefore appropriate.

Eubanks said he pointed out that CRT is a hot-button political topic nationwide, but Van Voorhees held firm.

Van Voorhees, who said she moved to Kootenai County from western Washington last March, is a member of Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education.”

The task force reportedly aims to root out alleged teachings of “critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism” in Idaho schools.

In a June task force meeting, Van Voorhees reportedly said she believes the U.S. is in the midst of a “communist takeover.”

Van Voorhees told Kootenai County’s Optional Forms of Government Study Commission in October that she sees “communism” in action locally.

“I see it in the school system, where they’re indoctrinating our children and indoctrinating them with equity,” she said.

Social equity means allocating resources and opportunities as needed to create equal outcomes for all community members, according to The United Way.

A website titled “Protect Your Children” appears to be created and operated by Van Voorhees.

“There are choices you can make to redirect what’s happening to the kids,” the site reads. “You have more power than you may think. Use it.”

Idaho Code states that on the day of any election, no person inside or within 100 feet of a polling place can “do any electioneering.”

The law specifically forbids circulating “cards or handbills of any kind.”

Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon condemned the poll worker’s actions in November.

He encouraged voters to inform poll judges and the elections office right away if they see possible electioneering.

Eubanks spent 43 years teaching in public schools, followed by five years as a school board member.

After all those years teaching history and civics, he said he couldn’t stand by when he witnessed illegal activity at a polling place.

“The whole country has been talking about election integrity,” Eubanks told The Press in December. “Here is something that’s going on that’s lacking integrity, right under our noses.”

He filed a complaint with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted an investigation.

The case was then forwarded to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office for review. After further investigation, a criminal complaint was filed Jan. 12.

Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh said in December that his office had not previously prosecuted any case related to electioneering.

He said he requested additional investigation in the case to make sure prosecutors had all evidence available.

Eubanks said Monday that he looks forward to the case reaching an appropriate resolution.

“We can’t let these things slide,” he said. “Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

A trial in the case is scheduled for May.

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