Some errors on election night - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Some errors on election night

Commissioners vote to adopt canvas results

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Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:15 am

Some polling station errors were discovered during Kootenai County's primary election canvassing, including one case that resulted in apparent voter fraud.

But most poll workers performed professionally on election day, said Clerk Cliff Hayes, with no mistakes egregious enough to affect the winners of each race.

"We always seem to have a few that make errors at the polls," Hayes said on Tuesday. "We'll continue to work on those."

The county commissioners voted unanimously at their weekly business meeting on Tuesday to adopt the canvass results for last week's primary elections, which include state, county, precinct committeeman and U.S. representative races.

According to the several-paged canvass results issued by the Clerk's Office, total ballot stubs received from poll workers were in 100 percent agreement with voter signatures in each poll book.

"There have been no surprises," Hayes said of the election outcomes.

Some slight discrepancies were found between the number of poll workers' ballot stubs and totals by optical scan counting machines, which were off by one or two in five precincts.

According to the canvass results document, "some voters may have left the precincts with their ballots in hand, or discarded their ballots."

Although there was also a slight discrepancy with absentee totals - vote-counting machines tallied 3,959 ballots, two less than manual counts - the elections staff has no further action to resolve the variance, the document states.

Several poll worker mistakes were noted in the canvassing document.

One incident of voter fraud appears to have occurred at precinct 39, where a poll worker accidentally allowed a voter to vote a second time on election day, after already casting an absentee ballot.

"The precinct's poll worker did not notice the 'absentee issued, absentee received' notation in the poll book, and issued a second ballot to this voter,'" the canvass document states.

The situation is being looked into, the document states, and the voter's name "may be referred to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office for legal action."

Commissioner Dan Green said he wants to consult with the Elections Office further on the incident.

"It's always something to be concerned about," Green said of voter fraud. "I think it should be explored, and get all the facts."

Commissioner Todd Tondee said it's good the clerk is at least aware voter fraud might have occurred.

"If it was quite a few (voter fraud incidents), it could be a lot of concern," Tondee said. "(Hayes) understands. He'll have to do different training or pick different people."

Other minor errors were reported in the canvassing results.

Poll workers at 11 precincts did not catch omissions of voter information on 12 election day registration cards, but still issued those voters ballots.

Information omitted included residential address, date of birth and driver's license.

One precinct committeeman ballot was also discovered in a supply box during canvass research on May 21. The vote pushed the winning candidate's total votes up one to 175.

The canvassing document states that "too many poll workers did not follow the instructions they received in training."

Elections staff is considering testing training comprehension in future poll worker education sessions, the document reads, to prevent these kinds of errors.

Tondee said that addressing polling station mistakes is ongoing.

"I'm sure the clerk will do a good job," Tondee said. "I have the upmost confidence in Hayes. He's a stickler for this stuff."

The canvassing document also notes that 48 eligible Republican voters weren't given the precinct committeeman ballot in precinct 52 due to the precinct judge's error, though the uncontested candidate still exceeded the five-vote minimum.

Also, 27 newly registered or re-registered voters cast a ballot in the wrong precincts. All but one received the right legislative district ballot.

The canvassing document also includes four pages of voided absentee ballots, most because voters somehow ruined their absentee ballots and ended up voting in person.

Hayes said the elections staff will continue to crack down on mistakes in each election cycle.

"We have 325 poll workers who are excellent, and don't get the credit they deserve," Hayes said. "(The election) went very smooth, except for these mistakes."

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  • brianid posted at 9:52 pm on Thu, May 24, 2012.

    brianid Posts: 19

    How about all the Democrats running on the Republican primary ticket? Isn't that fraud? How about all the Democrats that vote on the Republican primary ballot? Where are the stats reported in the cdapress for how many people voted on which primary ballot? Hrm.... too bad voting doesn't occur on April 15, an absentee ballot could be bundled with your 1040 form. I'm sure that would up the voter turnout.

  • SPUDIO posted at 10:00 pm on Wed, May 23, 2012.

    SPUDIO Posts: 101

    I think he ran for clerk because he was running against a Dem. and by running a dirty campaign he slid right in, also I think he wants another retirement to go with the two or three he already has. Definitly a double standard in more ways than one!

  • Flash Gordon posted at 8:58 pm on Wed, May 23, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1679

    Apparently Cliff Hayes has a double standard of responsibility when it comes to election day "gliches":)

  • curiouser posted at 10:03 am on Wed, May 23, 2012.

    curiouser Posts: 81

    Page 4 should look at page 1. Tyler trusts Cliff? Trust is generally a quality that is earned. Cliff may have earned Tyler's trust as a fellow Republican, maybe in his previous role as police chief in Post Falls, but there is little to base this trust on in his role as Clerk.

    I don't think Cliff is setting about to mess with the elections, and in that sense I trust that he is well-meaning. Elections are clearly complicated, with great potential for error, and they are conducted in often stressful situations. But the error count is going up and up with each successive election.

    The thing that is so dangerous about all these little errors, is they stack up. If there was a contested election, where the margin of difference between the candidates fell within the margin of known error, we would not have clarity as to who actually won.

    I wonder if Cliff himself has taken any training on elections? Integrity does not equal experience, and having one does not give you the other.

  • MixMart posted at 7:53 am on Wed, May 23, 2012.

    MixMart Posts: 1712

    I seem to recall Hayes saying he was going to fix all these supposed election problems.

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