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Kootenai County seeks judicial review after ballot error

| November 17, 2023 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The Kootenai County Clerk’s Office is seeking judicial review after election officials identified an error that could impact the outcome of the Nov. 7 Mica Kidd Island Fire Protection District’s base budget election ballot question.

Overlapping districts resulted in three distinct ballot styles for precinct 521. While canvassing the election, officials determined that one voter in the precinct received the incorrect ballot style, according to a news release issued by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

The ballot included the Mica Kidd Island Fire Protection District Ballot question, though the voter did not reside in the fire protection district.

The ballot question requires a two-thirds majority, or 66.67%, in order to pass. Unofficial election results show 324 votes in favor — 66.67% of the total — and 163 votes against.

In consultation with Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane, Kootenai County Clerk Jennifer Locke will petition the district court for a judicial review of the election to determine the appropriate course of action. The petition must be filed within 28 days of the election.

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections is my top priority and I am committed to ensuring votes are counted accurately,” Locke said in a news release. “The error in issuing an incorrect ballot is a serious concern and we are dedicated to correcting this issue under the guidance and oversight of the courts. This case underscores the effectiveness of the canvassing process in identifying discrepancies and working toward a legal remedy.”

All absentee and early voting ballots were issued correctly, Locke said.

Kootenai County had 176 different ballot styles this election, issued to voters throughout 73 precincts. Some precincts had as many as five or six different ballot styles.

Of the 22,407 ballots cast on Election Day, Locke said 98.84% had zero ballot issuance errors. No other ballot errors affected the outcome of any other races or questions.