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Candidate who lost council race appeals to Idaho high court

The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the outcome of a 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council election.

Jim Brannon, who narrowly lost a council race to Mike Kennedy, pressed his lawsuit against the city to the state’s high court after losing in district court nearly two years ago.

Coeur d’Alene lawyer Starr Kelso, arguing Brannon’s appeal, raised nearly two dozen issues in the case in filings with the Supreme Court.

In oral arguments Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene, Kelso focused on the legitimacy of several absentee ballots cast by voters living out of state, as well as a disparity in the total number of absentee ballots cast and counted in the Nov. 3, 2009, election. Either point, he argued, is reason to void the election results.

Kelso also argued the city did not have the legal authority to contract with Kootenai County to conduct the election, and he alleged misconduct on the part of the county’s elections department.

Attorneys Michael Haman and Scott Reed, representing the city and Kennedy, repeatedly reminded the justices that Kootenai County 1st District Judge Charles Hosack concluded in his October 2010 decision that there was no error in the counting of votes, nor misconduct on the part of county elections workers, that would change the result of the election.

They further argued the court does not know and may never know who the contested absentee voters voted for, meaning there’s no evidence that including or excluding their votes changes the outcome of the election.

Kennedy was declared the winner by five votes, and the margin was reduced to three during the district court trial after several votes were found to be illegal due to residency issues.

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