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Election results unchanged in Teton County after sealed box of ballots is counted

East Idaho Elects

DRIGGS – The results of the election in Teton County remain unchanged after a box of uncounted early voting ballots was found Wednesday.

When the Central Count Committee reconvened Wednesday afternoon to open the box of unprocessed ballots and re-tabulate the final tally, an additional 413 ballots were inside, Election Clerk Kim Keeley tells EastIdahoNews.com.

RELATED | Recount underway in Teton County after sealed box of ballots discovered

Keeley says they noticed a discrepancy in the number of early voting ballots that had been issued and received following Tuesday night’s election. After looking into it, they determined 959 early voting ballots were issued but only 557 were received.

“We thought it could’ve been a software glitch, but (software providers) said with something like that there has to be a box of ballots,” Keeley says.

Election officials went into the vault where the ballot boxes are stored, and they found a box with a matching seal and affidavit hidden underneath some paperwork.

“Before anybody votes and puts a ballot in the box, the first person that votes signs an affidavit and writes the number of the unique seal that goes on the box. So if there had been any issue there, that would’ve been a problem,” Keeley explains. “It hadn’t been tampered with. It had been in a secure vault the whole time. It just got missed on election day.”

After re-tabulating the additional 413 ballots to the final tally, the unofficial results show Democrat Bob Heneage is still the winner of the county commissioner race for District 3. The new results on Teton County’s website show Heneage beat his opponent, Republican Pete Moyer, by 121 votes. Heneage earned 50.7% of the vote with a total of 2,408 votes. Moyer had 48% of the vote, or 2,287 total votes.

For the county commission seat in District 2, Democrat Mike Whitfield had 53% of the vote with a total of 2,521 votes. His Republican opponent, John Smaellie, had 45% of the vote with 2,146 total votes. Independent write-in candidate Penny Vasquez had a total of 26 votes.

On election night, the numbers originally showed Heneage had 2,147 votes and Moyer had 2,139 votes. Whitfield had 2,243 votes, Smaellie had 2,015 votes and Vasquez had 22 votes.

The new results have not yet been posted on the Secretary of State’s website. The vote will remain unofficial until the vote is canvassed on Monday morning at 9:30 am by the Board of Canvassers.

Following every election, the Office of the Secretary of State randomly selects eight counties for a comprehensive election audit to ensure transparency and public confidence in election integrity. Teton County volunteered to be one of the eight counties audited. Keeley says they haven’t heard anything specific about that.

“There’s always a lot of cleanup the day after an election with all the counties. They said it would probably be early next week when they let us know,” says Keeley.

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