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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho’s Teton County found a box of uncounted ballots. That didn’t change the election.

By Kelcie Moseley-Morris Idaho Capital Sun

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office updated vote counts from Teton County on Thursday, after the county discovered one ballot box had not been processed. But the vote total did not change the outcomes of any state races, according to Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck.

Teton County, which is in eastern Idaho, reported Wednesday that during its pre-canvass review and reconciliation process, the elections director discovered a discrepancy between early voting ballots that were issued versus what was received. The difference was 402 votes.

Houck said the elections staff quickly notified the Idaho Secretary of State’s office that one of the ballot boxes still had its original seal and had not been processed.

“Before they did anything, at that point they called us and said, ‘We have a problem,’ ” Houck said.

He advised the office to leave the box untouched until representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties and candidates who might be affected by the new count could be present. At 4 p.m. Wednesday, the elections office invited members of the public and party representatives to the box opening and streamed the event on Zoom. An affidavit placed in the box while it was still empty was located at the bottom of the box when it was opened, confirming it had not been tampered with, Houck said. That procedure is outlined in Idaho Code and the Idaho Secretary of State’s directives.

Houck said the uncounted box, and a tabulation error in Jerome County that led to a candidate’s outcome being reversed, are both good examples of why election night results are considered unofficial.

“There are checks and balances in place to make sure things don’t inadvertently get missed,” Houck said.

The Secretary of State’s office will also randomly select eight counties for a comprehensive election audit, as required by statute. Teton County has volunteered to be one of the eight counties audited, according to a news release from the county.