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Errors in Election Night reporting led Idaho’s Secretary of State to change the outcome in a legislative race after it became clear one county’s results hadn’t been included in the totals. The Idaho Press has more:
Four legislative incumbents were defeated in Idaho’s primary election on Tuesday night, but the initial reports posted on election night by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office only showed three.
Secretary of State Lawerence Denney’s office corrected the results on Wednesday morning, to show that in eastern Idaho, former Rep. Karey Hanks actually had defeated first-term House incumbent Jerald Raymond; the results posted the night before showed Raymond had won, 53% to 47%…
“Well, y’know, the election night reporting is a new program,” Denney said Wednesday, “and certainly we’re definitely sorry that things happened, but that’s really not a fault of the software. It was human error, the mapping and not getting all four counties included in that.”
“We don’t like that kind of mistake, but they do happen,” Denney said. “And the results are unofficial.”
The issue centered on Fremont County, which was somehow omitted from initial preliminary results:
District 35 in eastern Idaho includes four counties: Butte, Clark, Fremont and Jefferson.
“The data that Fremont County had sent us was not mapping correctly for the results page, so what it was showing last night was not correct,” Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock said Wednesday. “That was something we discovered this morning, that the numbers were not in there for Fremont County.”
“So what you’re seeing there now is the final unofficial results,” he said. They show Hanks with 50.76%, or 4,870 votes; to 49.24% or 4,725 votes for Raymond. That’s a margin of 145 votes.
The SoS’ office acknowledged the error and said it would make them more careful going forward:
“It was just something that the folks we had looking at it, we missed it,” Hancock said. “We just missed the mapping of these races.” In addition to the Hanks-Raymond race, the Senate race in the district also was affected and the numbers changed, but it didn’t change the outcome.
“We checked out all of them on last Friday,” Denney said, “and we just missed that one county in the mapping on getting it put into that district. … So yes, we will double check everything next time. But that’s hindsight.”
This story is a good reminder that unofficial Election Night results can be fluid; however, given the obvious interest in election outcomes it’s very important to ensure that the data that is reported is correct. The challenge grows with the likelihood that vote-by-mail means that most jurisdictions will not have complete results on Election Night – making the need to properly report even those partial numbers even more crucial. Credit to the SoS’ office for owning the error, but here’s hoping they can avoid it going forward. Stay tuned …