Woman votes in Idaho, then California. Fraud? The problems in Idaho’s 2020 elections
Hayley Harding, Idaho Statesman
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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — There was no evidence of widespread fraud in Idaho’s election, top officials say.
That’s good news for those worried about potential fraud throwing the election. About a third of voters polled — and more than three-quarters of Trump supporters polled — believe President-Elect Joe Biden won the election only because of fraud, according to data from a Monmouth University poll released last week. Several prominent government leaders, including President Donald Trump, have said repeatedly that the election was fraudulent, even though there has never been any proof of more than incidental fraud anywhere in the country.
But there were a few problems in Idaho.
Chad Houck, chief deputy secretary of state, told the Statesman in a phone interview that clerk’s offices from across the state are following up on, or have followed up on, “a sum total of about 14 or 15 scenarios across the state that raise some flags.”
That’s with more than 878,500 ballots cast in Idaho during the general election (the highest number of ballots ever cast in Idaho), making for a total of about 0.000017% of all ballots being flagged with concerns in the state. Houck said the number of ballots flagged is on track with any other year.
Most of those ballots will not even be fraudulent, Houck said. Most will get resolved without a problem, he said, as clerks are able to work out that two separate people have the same name or that immigrants hadn’t informed the Department of Motor Vehicles that they had become citizens.
“The fact that these instances raised some flags is an indicator that the system works, in terms that we were able to see something was off, look at it and try to figure out what’s going on,” Houck said. “That is not to say there is evidence of 15 instances of fraud, just to make that clear.”
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, Controller Brandon Woolf and State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, who make up the state board of canvassers, conducted Idaho’s official canvass of the state’s votes, Denney’s office announced last week. It is during that process that they take official account of all ballots cast to make sure everyone is counted properly.
Each county clerk, however, runs their county’s elections independently, which means most of the cases that got flagged will be resolved at the local level. Only a single case made its way up to to the Secretary of State’s office, Houck said: A woman allegedly requested a ballot in Idaho before registering in California. She then used that ballot to vote in Idaho — and also voted in California.
The Secretary of State’s office passed that case to Ada County, Houck said.
Phil McGrane, the Ada County clerk, said in an emailed statement that there are a “limited number of cases” the county is looking into as potential fraud, although nothing has been forwarded to the sheriff’s office yet.
“We first need to determine if they are in fact fraud cases or something else,” McGrane wrote. “Once we have a chance to investigate, we should have more information to share.”
Ada County had administrative problems with several of its elections-related mailings this year. It sent 2,500 voters postcards with incorrect polling locations and told 30,000 voters they had not requested an absentee ballot although some had.
During the May primary election, held entirely by mail, some voters got ballots that listed incorrect candidates, while others got ballots without the requested party affiliation. In total, more than 7,000 ballots had to be reissued.
The measures Idaho took to make sure voters were able to vote only once worked well, Houck said. Those measures included requiring that absentee ballots be issued only upon request, that signatures on absentee ballot envelopes match those on file, and that absentee ballots be stored securely.
Even if someone wanted to commit widespread voter fraud, it would be difficult in Idaho, he said, because each clerk runs their elections independently.
“You’d have to find a procedure that you could manipulate the same way in 44 counties, and there’s just not that much uniformity, so that makes it really hard,” Houck said.
He said he remained confident in the Idaho’s elections. “And, of course, the people who run them,” he added.