Blaine County officials are seeking a re-vote in the race for Ketchum Rural Fire District commissioner, after an unknown number of residents received the wrong ballot in early voting, according to the Elections Office.
Just one could be enough to tip the election between incumbent Jed Gray and challenger Gray Ottley, which concluded yesterday with the two separated by a single vote.
After consulting with the Secretary of State’s Office, the Elections Office asked the prosecuting attorney to petition a judge for a new election, to be held alongside the presidential primary in March, according to County Services Manager Brooke Baird.
She doesn’t think there were any problems at the polls yesterday. But, District 1 of the Wood River Fire Protection District, which abuts District 3 of the Ketchum Rural Fire District, also had a commissioner election on Tuesday. The two districts don’t map neatly onto the county’s 5th and 6th precincts—some voters are in Ketchum Rural, others in Wood River—which may have spiked confusion among early voters.
At least “a few” voters noted the discrepancy upon seeing sample ballots advertised in the Idaho Mountain Express late last month, Baird said.
“We don’t know how many people got the wrong ballot,” she said on Wednesday afternoon. “But, we’re not 100 percent confident in the results we have.”
Those were close: Of the ballots in hand, Gray defeated Ottley by one vote, 228 to 227.
For now, the county will set those figures aside. The county commissioners are scheduled to canvass the votes in all other races at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, finalizing the results.
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon. A judge would need to authorize a re-vote by Nov. 15, Baird said.
This is a developing story. For more, see Friday’s edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.