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Regional News

Idaho completes first legislative mandated election audit

Sample Idaho primary election ballot
Screenshot from Kootenai County Elections Department website

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office recently completed its first audit of an election, a new requirement the legislature approved earlier this year.

State election officials reviewed ballots and election processes in eight Idaho counties, including Kootenai. They found counties store ballots in different ways and use different methods to stay organized, but all of them passed legal muster and produced accurate results.

Sharee Sprague, the current president of the Idaho County Clerks Association and the clerk for Power County, says she hopes the audit will reassure voters.

“If we would have had a different result, I would have been shocked,” she said, “But, I'm hoping that will help give our voters more confidence in the overall system of how we do things.”

Sprague says the audit is also a chance to learn. She says in preparing for the review, county clerks have started discussions with state officials and with each other about how to improve the process.

Chad Houck, deputy secretary of state, said there were also a few challenges in the first audit. He says elections offices had to sort ballots by hand for the audit, a process they usually use machines for.

He says the new state law gives his office some leeway on what the audit can focus on, and how to administer it, and he hopes the next one will focus not on outcomes of any particular race, but on the process itself. He says examples of areas his office could look at are ballots chain of custody, or safe storage, or other ways local clerks keep elections secure.

The next audit is in November.