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Gap in closest Idaho legislative primary race narrows to just two votes as recount looms

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Gap in closest Idaho legislative primary race narrows to just two votes as recount looms

May 24, 2024 | 1:06 pm ET
By Clark Corbin
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Gap in closest Idaho legislative primary race narrows to just two votes as recount looms
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Open booths await voters for the primary election on May 21, 2024, at the College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls. (Pat Sutphin for the Idaho Capital Sun)

With a recount on the way, only two votes separate the apparent winner and loser in a razor-thing Republican legislative primary election in eastern Idaho.

Initial, unofficial election results posted by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office late Tuesday and early Wednesday originally indicated that Republican challenger Ben G. Fuhriman of Shelley had defeated incumbent Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, by 10 votes.

However, the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office issued a news release late Thursday explaining that when the counties conducted a review and canvass of election results and records, they discovered a disparity of eight votes that narrowed the apparent 10-vote difference down to two votes. 

Elections officials in Butte County counted the votes correctly by hand after the election, but the error occurred when those results were added to the state’s election reporting system, state elections officials said.  

“An analysis confirmed that the county tally and canvass report in Butte County was correct,” Thursday’s news release from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office said. “Butte County uses a hand count tabulation, and the discrepancy was due to a data entry error during the manual entry of the results into the state election results reporting system. The unofficial results on VoteIdaho.gov have been updated to reflect the correct tabulation. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office contacted both candidates to inform them of the change in results.”

The updated election results show the outcome of the Republican primary election for Idaho House, District 30, Seat B was unchanged, but the vote count is different.

  • Fuhriman: 3,763 votes
  • Young: 3,761 votes

In an emailed message to her supporters sent Wednesday afternoon, Young had already indicated she would request and pay for a recount. Now, the state is picking up the tab.

I am requesting a paid recount because of the small difference in the election results for my race, but respect the decision made by the voters of our district and, assuming that the results remain consistent, I wish my opponent the very best in his public service,” Young wrote Wednesday.

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With the gap shrinking to two votes, Young won’t have to pay for the recount now. Under state law, a losing candidate may request a free recount if the difference between the votes is less than or equal to 0.1% or five votes, whichever is greater. 

Idaho elections officials emphasized that election results don’t become official until after they are reviewed by the counties and certified by the State Board of Canvassers. This year’s primary election canvass is scheduled for June 5 in Idaho Falls. 

State law specifies that after the canvass is complete, a candidate has 20 days to request a recount from Idaho’s attorney general. 

The District 30 race between Fuhriman and Young was by far the closest election result from Tuesday’s primary election, and no other results fell within the 0.1% or five-vote margin to qualify for a free recount. 

In other elections news, on Friday afternoon Ada County elections officials announced that when they reviewed elections results they discovered 33 ballots that were properly scanned on election night but were not uploaded to the results page due to human error. The error did not change the outcome of any of the races affected. After discovering the error, Ada County elections officials updated their results page to reflect the correct totals, Ada County Clerk Trent Tripple said in a written statement. 

“Our emphasis on multiple layers of checks and balances worked to ensure the voices of Ada County voters are accurately reflected in our results,” Tripple said.