‘Essence of democracy’

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  • BRIAN WALKER/Press Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon, left, welcomes Nick Franssen of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office to the Elections Office on Wednesday for the recount of the Spirit Lake Fire commissioner race that was decided by one vote on Nov. 7. The ballots had to be stored at the sheriff’s office after the recount was requested by candidate Jonathan Hall. The recount verified the original count.

  • 1

    BRIAN WALKER/Press Nick Franssen of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office removes tape from the doorway of the elections electronic counting room on Wednesday after the area was required to blocked from the recount request to the recount process.

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    Spirit Lake Fire Candidat Jonathan Hall, center, asks Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon a question during the recount process on Wednesday. On the right is John Bartholomew, president of the Spirit Lake Firefighters Union Local 4336. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

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    Kootenai County Elections Supervisor Carrie Phillips removes the seals of the ballot boxes prior to the recount on Wednesday while Clerk Jim Brannon looks on. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

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    Candidate Jonathan Hall, back left, and Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon watch county elections employees, from left, Grace Studer, Megan Bircher, Angela Paules and Shelli Halloran count votes by hand on Wednesday. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

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    Candidate Jonathan Hall, right, watches the recount process through a window inside the electronic ballot counting room on Wednesday. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

  • BRIAN WALKER/Press Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon, left, welcomes Nick Franssen of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office to the Elections Office on Wednesday for the recount of the Spirit Lake Fire commissioner race that was decided by one vote on Nov. 7. The ballots had to be stored at the sheriff’s office after the recount was requested by candidate Jonathan Hall. The recount verified the original count.

  • 1

    BRIAN WALKER/Press Nick Franssen of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office removes tape from the doorway of the elections electronic counting room on Wednesday after the area was required to blocked from the recount request to the recount process.

  • 2

    Spirit Lake Fire Candidat Jonathan Hall, center, asks Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon a question during the recount process on Wednesday. On the right is John Bartholomew, president of the Spirit Lake Firefighters Union Local 4336. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

  • 3

    Kootenai County Elections Supervisor Carrie Phillips removes the seals of the ballot boxes prior to the recount on Wednesday while Clerk Jim Brannon looks on. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

  • 4

    Candidate Jonathan Hall, back left, and Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon watch county elections employees, from left, Grace Studer, Megan Bircher, Angela Paules and Shelli Halloran count votes by hand on Wednesday. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

  • 5

    Candidate Jonathan Hall, right, watches the recount process through a window inside the electronic ballot counting room on Wednesday. (BRIAN WALKER/Press)

By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

COEUR d'ALENE — Spirit Lake Fire Candidate Jonathan Hall got closure Wednesday that he in fact lost on Nov. 7 by a single vote.

Then he gave county elections staff applause after watching the rare and detailed recount process at work.

"It's beautiful," Hall told eight county employees tasked with assisting in the hand- and electronic-counting processes.

"It's very official, and I was humbled to be a part of it. It's not necessarily that I wanted to be the first [to request a recount in many years in Kootenai and Bonner counties], but this is the essence of democracy."

After Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon informed Hall that the original count was verified and did not change the outcome of the election, Hall gave Brannon a firm handshake for his and his staff's time.

Hall had 200 votes in Kootenai County for Spirit Lake's Sub-District 2 seat to Mark Miller's 182. However, Miller had 69 votes in Bonner County to top Hall's 50. Therefore, Miller edged Hall 251-250.

"No change, but it's been verified and that's important," Brannon said after the recount. "Obviously, we take this seriously and the candidates take this seriously so we want to do it right."

The Bonner County recount was on Monday and also revealed no change in the results.

Hall said he wasn't expecting the outcome to change after the recounts, but the vote was just too close not to do a double-check and have closure.

"I never doubted you," he said after the recount. "The outcome was exactly as I expected."

The recount did not cost Hall anything.

Hall was joined by John Bartholomew, president of Spirit Lake Firefighters' Union Local 4336, to observe the Kootenai County process. The union endorsed Hall.

Elections supervisor Carrie Phillips said this is the first time in at least nine years that a recount was requested in Kootenai County. Hall said he was told by Bonner County officials that one hasn't been held there in more than 22 years.

Officials in both counties said there have been a few elections decided by a coin toss in recent years.

Idaho law spells out how a recount needs to be handled.

After Hall requested one last week, the ballots for the race were taken to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office to be stored securely. The counting room at the Elections Office was closed with tape until the recount on Wednesday. The counties had 10 days from the request to conduct the recounts.

A test deck of ballots was electronically counted during the Kootenai County recount before the actual ballots. The actual ballots were then counted both by hand and through the electronic tabulator machines. Each step was verified by county attorney Pat Braden and observed by multiple elections employees.

Both counties coordinated the recount efforts with the Idaho Secretary of State's Office.

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