Polling Locations

Canyon County Clerk Chris Yamamoto laughs with poll workers at O’Connor Field House in Caldwell during a site visit during the May 15, 2018, primary election.

Once again, the Canyon County Elections Office proves to be an embarrassment on election night. Final results for the second-largest county in Idaho didn’t come in until after 3 a.m., apparently the second-slowest county in Idaho, faster only than Kootenai County.

It took the Canyon County elections office more than six hours to count 27,000 ballots. By comparison, Ada County took only four hours to count nearly triple that amount — 78,796 ballots.

Some of us (painfully) recall the November 2016 election when, by 2 a.m., Canyon County had counted ballots in only nine of 64 precincts and didn’t finish counting all of the ballots until 7 a.m. the day after the election.

Then, just as this year, Canyon County officials offered an “explanation” of illegible ballots and vowed to get it fixed.

But here we are again.

It reminds us of the joke about a man who charters a beat-up, dangerous-looking single-prop airplane and nervously asks the pilot if it’s safe to fly. The pilot responds, “Don’t worry, I’ve done this before.” When the plane crashes, the passenger says, “I thought you said you’ve done this before,” and the pilot responds, “Yep, this is about where I crashed last time.”

Unfortunately, Canyon County is the joke in all of this.

The only way you can get something fixed is by having consequences. Unfortunately, Canyon County officials appear to be content with messing up and having no consequences for their incompetence.

Not only was the Canyon County Elections Office slow to count ballots, it appears the county did a poor job of training poll workers. We are hearing firsthand anecdotes of voters requesting ballots to vote in the Republican primary or for the Nampa wastewater bond but were given incorrect information by poll workers. We don’t blame the poll workers. We appreciate their service. But clearly, the county should have done a better job of preparing and training them.

This all comes on top of continued issues with accessibility at polling places, which we’re still not told whether they’ve been brought up to adequate standards.

This is unacceptable for the second-largest county in the state. We’re not Kootenai or Bonner county. We are a county of 200,000 people that includes the state’s third-largest city.

The problem is likely to get even more acute, as the Treasure Valley continues to grow and we have a new crop of young people starting to vote. If the county can’t even handle 27,000 ballots, we shudder to think how late we’ll get results with 40,000, 50,000 or more ballots.

It’s time for the county commissioners to step in to hold the elections office accountable for its inability to run an efficient election. We’d like to see the county commissioners convene a meeting with the elections officials, perhaps at the same time the results are canvassed, to demand answers for why Canyon County continues to be an embarrassment on election night and what the plan is for fixing the problem.

Our editorials are based on the majority opinions of our editorial board. Not all opinions are unanimous. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison and community members Jean Mutchie, Mikki Simpson, Kari Child and Bob Otten. Editor Scott McIntosh is a nonvoting member.

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