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Idaho Secretary of State: Preliminary election audit results show low margin of error

Voters cast their ballots at Timberline High School during the Idaho Primary on May 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
Voters cast their ballots at Timberline High School during the Idaho Primary on May 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The results of a hand count of randomly selected ballots from the May 17 primary election in three Idaho counties showed little to no margin of error in the reported vote count, according to a press release from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

It is the first post-election audit since the passage of Senate Bill 1274 during the legislative session earlier this year. The audit is conducted to check that the equipment and procedures used to count votes during the primary election worked properly and yielded the correct outcome.

The audit locations were chosen on Tuesday by a random ball draw weighted proportionally to population, after which precincts from within those counties were selected, according to the secretary’s office. The audit is expected to last until Friday. A secondary report detailing observations of each county’s election process will be included in a follow-up report, according to the release.

“While the numbers are a good indicator of the accuracy of the processes used to count votes within a given county, the ability to reproduce them manually also provides insight into the areas of ballot inventory controls, storage, retrieval and cataloguing processes, and reporting complexity, as these processes are necessary to both find the ballots requested, and reconcile any differences within the count,” the release said.

In Ada County, the Secretary of State’s office said it reviewed the race for Idaho Secretary of State between Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, and Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene. Out of 3,598 ballots, the audit showed no errors. In Idaho County, auditors reviewed the same secretary of state race and found a net error of one ballot, for a margin of error of .042%.

In Payette County, a review of a close race between Reps. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, and Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, showed a net error of one ballot, resulting in a .043% margin of error.

Of 8,318 ballots reviewed, the audit showed an error rate of .024%.

“It is in these reports that we hope to be able to provide the real value of this process,” Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said in the release. “Sharing the observations, both positive and negative, that our teams are able to make over the course of this process with all 44 counties is one way we can continue to push Idaho’s processes forward and guarantee the continued high integrity of Idaho’s elections.”

Audits in Jerome and Bonneville counties yielded similar preliminary results on Thursday. The results for those counties are expected on Friday, and audits will be conducted on Friday in Bannock, Kootenai and Madison counties.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.