State certifies general election votes
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (center) signs documents certifying Idaho’s 2022 general election results on Nov. 23 as State Controller Brandon Woolf and State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth look on. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)
| November 26, 2022 1:00 AM
The Idaho State Board of Canvassers voted 3-0 Wednesday to certify the results of the state’s general election.
As part of the canvass and certification, the State Board of Canvassers met at the Idaho State Capitol, received a report from the Secretary of State’s Office and was presented with election data and results from every precinct in the state.
Prior to certifying election results, the State Board of Canvassers also reviewed findings from audits of election results from eight Idaho counties.
None of the legislative or statewide races were changed as a result of the audit or canvass. Additionally, no statewide or legislative races were within .1% or five votes, which is the threshold in Idaho law to qualify for a free recount.
“Overall I am happy with the results that we have,” Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, one of the members of the Idaho State Board of Canvassers, said as the election results were certified. “As the elections office, we always like to see large margins because there is such a thing as human error. I don’t think we have ever had a perfect election yet, but that is what we strive for.”
The unanimous vote to certify means the results of Idaho’s Nov. 8 general election are now official for the first time.
The Idaho State Board of Canvassers is made up of the secretary of state, state treasurer and state controller, by Idaho law. All three members, including Denney, State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth and State Controller Brandon Woolf participated in the meeting and vote.
The additional data released with the canvass showed that voter turnout across the state came to 56.8% and there were 44,285 Idahoans who registered to vote on Election Day. The county with the highest percentage of 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 elections officials speculated one reason turnout could be lower in Madison County is if a large number of students at the time registered to vote for the 2020 presidential election and then either didn’t vote this year or moved away from town but have yet to be purged from the voter 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 precinct that is recounted.
Idaho election officials identified three ‘challenges’
Although Denney said he was happy with the results overall, he and his staff said there were three challenges on election night.
Two of them occurred in Jerome County. One issue was that Jerome County incorrectly printed ballots that featured an independent candidate who had withdrawn from the District 26 Idaho Senate race. About 500 Jerome County early and absentee voters received those improper ballots, and 25 people cast ballots for that candidate, Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock said. Those 25 votes did not count, since voters marked a bubble for a candidate who was not running 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 ineligible candidate were not even close to enough to affect the outcome of the race either way.
Jerome County had a second challenge on Election Day as well. Jerome County officials initially did not include early votes when sending results to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Officials said that was a reporting error, not a counting error, and the issue did reverse what had initially appeared to be a Democratic victory but was in fact a victory for Republican Jack Nelsen, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported.
Finally, Teton County officials found an extra box of uncounted absentee ballots after they had already reported election results. The box contained 402 ballots and has since been counted. The new vote totals did not change the outcome of any of those races, the Sun previously reported.
Idaho takes several steps to safeguard election results
Wednesday’s canvass and certification are just one of the steps in place to safeguard Idaho elections.
Prior to the election, county officials held logic and accuracy tests where they tested and demonstrated ballot tabulation equipment in public and answered questions from the news media and Idahoans about the process.
Beginning Saturday, officials from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office conducted an audit of election results from eight Idaho counties that were selected in a random, lottery-style drawing.
Each of the Idaho’s 44 counties also canvassed and certified their own election results.
Idaho’s largest county, Ada County, was one of the eight counties selected for a post-election audit.
“We are pleased by the results of the audit,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, who was also elected as Idaho secretary of state, said in a written statement. “We work hard to ensure the utmost integrity in elections. In a time in which we are seeing an increase in questions regarding elections, these audits help build confidence in the process. Voters in Ada County can be confident that their votes count. We test our equipment extensively prior to an election so that we can ensure the accuracy of results. The audit demonstrates that the process works as intended.”