Satellite absentee polls may return - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Satellite absentee polls may return

Proposal requires at least three sites in Kootenai County

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Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:00 am

POST FALLS - Ron Johnson is rooting for satellite absentee voting centers to return to Kootenai County.

The Post Falls resident is among those who support a legislative proposal to revive the centers.

"As long as I knew about it, that was my preferred way of voting," Johnson said of the site at Post Falls City Hall. "It was handy and was a pleasant way of doing it. Any chance we can increase voting is a plus."

Kootenai County formerly had such satellite sites at city halls in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hayden for 20-plus years before the Kootenai County Clerk's Office opted in 2011 to not have them to save money and for ballot security reasons.

Currently, the only in-person absentee voting site is at the county elections office in Coeur d'Alene.

However, the proposal would require counties of more than 100,000 residents such as Kootenai to have at least three sites.

"We've had interest from several counties about it," said Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, who floated the bill on the House side. "Voters love to vote in person and many can't make it on election day. This helps ensure people will vote."

Woodings said a similar bill is now in the works on the Senate side led by Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, that makes the additional voting sites a requirement only during the general election, not all elections as proposed with her House bill.

Woodings said she believes there's a better chance the proposal will be heard by committee if only the general election is included, so the Senate version will be the focus.

The proposal also requires counties with less than 25,000 residents to have at least one absentee center and counties with between 25,000 and 100,000 to have at least two.

The sites would be open at least five days a week and for 21 days before the election.

Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes said when the law changed two years ago to make the counties responsible for all election costs and consolidated elections, the satellite centers were dropped to save funding during tough times.

"It was going to cost several thousand dollars for each satellite poll," Hayes said in a telephone message. "I didn't see a need and wanted to save money."

Hayes earlier said voters can just as easily drive to the elections office on Third Street in Coeur d'Alene. He also earlier said that either all cities should have satellite centers or none of them should to be fair. He couldn't be reached for further comment on Friday.

County elections officials earlier said the 2009 Coeur d'Alene City Council race controversy involving Mike Kennedy's narrow victory over challenger Jim Brannon - and the court saga that followed - caused the county to be more cautious on how it handles ballots and was another reason for shutting down the satellite sites. They said the decision was not out of mistrust of city workers who manned the centers, but more of the public perception that ballots could be tampered with.

According to the legislative proposal, the cost to the counties to run an early voting center, including labor, rental, if applicable, and materials, is estimated to be between $5,000 and $7,500.

Johnson said city halls are open and being heated during the day anyway, so the county's cost to rent space for a center should be minimal. And the materials need to be printed regardless, he said. Post Falls, for instance, didn't charge the county for using the space when the center was there.

Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin said there's demand to bring the centers back.

"We have lost a very valuable election service tool," he said. "Our citizens are very upset that we do not offer this service locally anymore. We hear about it all the time. At a time when government becomes suspect to many, we need to show we are trying to accommodate their needs.

"We are supposed to be helping our citizens with services of this type, not making them (go to Coeur d'Alene). Many just say, 'To heck with it,' and don't vote."

Woodings said there's also a demand in Ada County, where that county's single early voting site had voters waiting in line for four hours during the last general election.

"Satellite centers are very convenient for voters," she said. "My interest in them is two-fold - shorter lines and geographically they're more convenient for voters to vote early."

Woodings said the proposal goes hand in hand with legislative efforts to simplify the early voting process for elections offices.

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  • bionic man posted at 1:28 pm on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    Dan, I stated it wrong. I should have said " election office corruption." In my mind and others, the whole election was a fix. The problem with CDA and Kootenai County elections is the fact the "voters " choices don't matter. It's all who has the money and control of those who benefit from the corruption. The owners of the downtown CDA corridor control the outcome of the voting. I would definately like to see 3 independant firms count the votes. None of which have any ties to any person, project involved with CDA or Kootenai county. The county, city, school districts all need an overhaul in regards to personnel. All anyone see's anymore is an increase in taxes to pay for pet peve projects and higher wages for those in office. California had the same problem and took care of it. White collar crime is rampant in Kootenai county and especially the city of CDA

  • Justthree posted at 8:23 am on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    Justthree Posts: 68

    Wouldn't a handful of votes change the result of the 2009 Brannon versus Kennedy election?

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:00 am on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Were you also proud that Deedie Beards Computer was wiped clean before it could be used in court?

  • Dan English posted at 7:29 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    Dan English Posts: 185

    Glad to respond bionic man. Not sure what you mean by "wasn't it your watch where all the voter corruption, etc. was exposed?????? "

    I'm guessing you are referring to the Cd'A election challenge of Brannon vs. Kennedy. The outcome of who won that city council seat was of course challenged and litigated from the local District Court to the Idaho Supreme Court. The outcome stayed the same as reported on election night.

    This was probably the most extensively reviewed election in Idaho. Out of thousands of votes cast there were a handful of voters who were not legitimagely entitled to cast votes in that election. I was glad then and glad now they were held accountable.

    I was very proud of the work done by my election officials and still stand by that, human errors not withstanding.

  • bionic man posted at 5:18 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    dan, i may be wrong, and if so, please correct me....wasn't it your watch where all the voter corruption, etc. was exposed?????? nothing against you personally, just wondering. anyone with/involved in cda/kootenai county politics are beginning to get my attention. got more research to do as time permits

  • LTRLTR posted at 2:44 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    Thank you for your response Dan.

    I will assume those few people who didn't like the closure of the satellite sites will adjust to the new ways of doing things. Voting absentee at the county elections office is so easy and stress free.

    I want my faith restored with improved election laws and I want election laws enforced as adopted by government.

  • Dan English posted at 12:50 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    Dan English Posts: 185

    LTR, I don't have any hard numbers to show many might not have voted without the satellite sites but I can say it was a popular option that thousands of voters used for over a decade. Even if you can't show hard numbers of who didn't vote you can say for sure that we have less options than in the past. I have had many people tell me they miss them and the time they saved for the voter.

    One of the primary jobs of government paid for by the people is to be available for the people and I think the satellite voting sites did just that. And they are already paid for by state revenue sharing funds that used to go to the cities but a portion of those funds are now given to the counties specifically to fund election expenses in the light of election consolidation.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 12:40 pm on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    bionic man
    I hope you do not mind me adding your statement a little.

    "Besides, even if you are registered, they discount your vote if you have the wrong zip code, address, phone number, etc.".........if you are against status quo and the crooked GOB's. However, if you vote for the GOB's you can hold up residency in Canada or be in the military and from Post Falls and be SURE that your vote will be counted in a CdA election.

  • bionic man posted at 9:59 am on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    Why waste time voting????? The elections are already fixed. Money and position has been the natual in the CDA/Kootenai area for a long, long time. Besides, even if you are registered, they discount your vote if you have the wrong zip code, address, phone number, etc.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:16 am on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530


    Yes, the extras from CdA city hall. LMBO

  • LTRLTR posted at 7:38 am on Mon, Feb 11, 2013.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    Dan English: Did the closure of satellite voting areas such as Cda. City Hall cause anyone not to vote?

  • local res posted at 11:03 pm on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    Dan you lost, drift off into the sunset!

  • local res posted at 11:02 pm on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    It is not a perception of trust? Like He$$ some of us dont trust the city or schools to run an election with out attempting to sway the election. Just take a look at past issues with the CDA elections and tell us their was not a problem. Also this past year the Rathdrum school district ran a bond election on the same day they scheduled parents to meet the teachers, instead of allowing the county to hold the election when other elections were to be held. I agree with Concerned, we demand transparency and before we did not get.

  • The Simple Truth posted at 11:39 am on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    The Simple Truth Posts: 563

    Look at Virginia and the way the GOP is trying to gerrymander districts to thwart the will of the majority.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 10:57 am on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Excuse me TST. It was the LAST CC that did not keep proper records, allowed embezzlement along with, IMO, a crooked local govt that has KEPT your vote from being counted. All of the RR and other conservatives have tried to get transparency and honesty out of our local govt. Put blame where blame is due.

  • The Simple Truth posted at 7:13 am on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    The Simple Truth Posts: 563

    I'm pretty sure that the local GOP will do whatever they can to suppress votes from Democrats under the theory of "if we can't veat 'em, cheat 'em"

  • LTRLTR posted at 5:27 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    LTR or long term resident only. Just a citizen that has lived here, worked here, and raised a family here in Kootenai County. I believe in accountability, honesty and living in a healthy environment.

    Dan: Do you know if we lost any voters due to the closures of satellite voting?

    I can assume people who wanted to vote did so, all the while, money was saved and voter integrity tighten up. So I do not buy in spending money that doesn't need to be spent.

  • Dan English posted at 4:59 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    Dan English Posts: 185

    Ltr, you strike me as someone who is likely a conservative. Who knows, maybe I even know you. If you are a conservative and have been around here for any length of time then I'm sure we have some friends in common.

    I had the enjoyment of standing shoulder to shoulder just last year with several of my Democratic and Conservative Republican friends to argue strongly to the Commissioners when they wanted to drastically cut the number of polling sites. Eventually we prevailed and the BOCC stayed with essentially the same number of sites we had. One of the main arguements made that day by everyone was that elections are not the place to cut corners on expense and especially when it meant it would be cutting down on voter access and voter options.

    Two thoughts from that experience. Democrats and Republicans can work together on issues of mutual concern (another one was to argue against the optional forms of county government). And two, cutting down on voter options just to save money is one of those areas that many of us agree is not the place to cut corners, especially when the state has given the county dedicated funds for elections.

    This is just meant as positive food for thought and not to be argumentative with you.

  • LTRLTR posted at 1:46 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    I like "cautious' and I like how our current Kootenai Co Clerk is handling elections.

    If we can save money through the closing of satellite centers than so be it! Saving money is the desire of the taxpayers. Change is difficult in the beginning and eventually everyone gets use to it.

    Voting by mail is about as easy as it can be!

  • concernedcitizen posted at 7:45 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Anywhere is fine EXCEPT CdA city hall.

    We already know what they would do to win an election.

  • truthful1 posted at 7:19 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    truthful1 Posts: 554

    what can you expect from a person who stole their user name from WND?

  • Dan English posted at 7:08 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    Dan English Posts: 185

    Another interesting point on the partisan mix of voting in Kootenai County is that while we did not have party registration at the time we had multiple absentee voting sites, they were quite heavily used in the primary elections. The voters, all the voters who used them, seemed to love the convience of them.

    Who were those voters you might ask, Mr. voxpop? If you were around then you may recall that Idaho voters didn't have to declare by party or register by party but they did have to vote either a Republican ballot or a Democrat ballot in the primary. And we did track ballots cast by parties. It was consistently about 90% Republican ballots in the primary vs. about 10% Democrat ballots. Not too surprising given that almost all the primary battles were on the Republican ballot. But it does demonstrate which party the majority of those in-person absentee voters were likely to be.

  • Dan English posted at 6:56 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    Dan English Posts: 185

    When I first became Clerk several years ago there was a real problem with not enough polling sites for people which resulted in long lines, frustrated voters, and I'm sure some who chose not to vote because of it.

    We did several things to help that including increasing the number of polling sites and I worked with the legislature (of course then, like now, it was a strongly Republican controlled legislature) to change the law so that we could have multiple in-person absentee polling sites instead of just one. I believe that is still a county by county option but it looks like this law would require at least more than one site for the benefit of the voters based on population.

    When the election consolidation law was changed a few years ago so that counties took over the election duties for all districts they also gave the counties significant amounts of new dollars that are meant to cover those costs. In Kootenai County it was more than enough for the added duties and costs.

    I don't believe the dollars that are meant to be spent on voters and the election process should be diverted to cover other areas in the county budget even if times are tough. I can't imagine most voters would agree with that position when the dollars are there specifically for those services.

  • LMYCDA posted at 6:36 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    LMYCDA Posts: 2288

    Did you not get any sleep? Are you ok? Why post such trash? Vox you are the whole reason this country is where it is. Sad but so true.

    Are you saying that all those that vote for a democrat are liars, cheats, etc.? That is what it most definitely sounds like.

    How do you know this person is a democrat, republican, independent?

    Makes me ill that you might even live in Coeur d'Alene.

  • voxpop posted at 5:39 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "Voters love to vote in person..."

    That is absolute BS. If democrats want more people voting then make vote by mail the norm. Oh wait - then it would have to be only those who actually live here, who actually pay the bills, who don't depend on Uncle Sam for their beer, cigarettes, and cell phone.

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