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Discrepancy in Jerome election results change one District 26 race outcome

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Emilie Ritter Saunders
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Boise State Public Radio

Jerome County announced Wednesday that unofficial election results released after Tuesday’s election did not line up with the correct tabulated results, affecting the outcome of one legislative race.

Jack Nelsen, the Republican candidate for District 26, which includes Blaine, Lincoln and Jerome counties, actually won his race for House Seat B against Democrat Karma Metzler Fitzgerald, said Avery Roberts, the communications director for the Idaho Democratic Party.

Unofficial election results posted early Wednesday morning showed Metzler Fitzgerald had won. Now they show Nelsen won by 83 votes.

Jerome County said the error was uncovered as part of the normal verification process and that it’s been working with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to figure out the discrepany’s cause.

Cy Lootens, the county election supervisor, said the file it sent to the Secretary of State’s office on election night had the correct results, but not all the information got posted to the website.

He said he noticed Wednesday morning that the numbers on the state website were not the same as the results the county had.

Chad Houck, with the Secretary of State’s office, said an error in “vote type configuration” meant early voting numbers from Jerome were not added to the total votes shown on the results web page.

Lootens said it’s important to remember that election results are unofficial until they’re certified by the county commissioners, which will happen Monday. Election results are then certified by the state by Nov. 23.

Metzler Fitzgerald, from Shoshone, learned of the error through a phone call from the Idaho Secretary of State's office Thursday morning, and said she was devastated.

“My passion is about serving the people of this community and this state and whether I do that with an official title or not, doesn’t really matter," she said.

Nelsen said he's excited about the results, but reiterated the point that they're still preliminary.

"I believe in the process," he said.

Roberts said the Idaho Democratic Party is waiting on the official county canvass before determining if it will request a recount.

Votes were also added to other candidates’ totals, but were not enough to change the outcomes of the district’s senate race or the other house race, which both went to Democrats.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.