Idaho Congressional Candidate Files Lawsuit To Extend Ballot Request Deadline

May 20, 2020

Credit Nicholas Jones campaign

Congressional hopeful Nicholas Jones has asked a federal court to give Idaho voters more time to get their ballots after the state’s online portal was overloaded with a last-minute flood of requests Tuesday.

Jones’ campaign said Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) failed to fulfill his duty as Idaho’s elections chief.


“Although [Denney] is aware of the issues with its website, [he] has not done anything to resolve the problem…,” the lawsuit filed Tuesday reads.

His attorneys asked the Idaho Federal District Court to push back the deadline for Idahoans to request their ballots to Tuesday, May 26 at 8 p.m., a full week extension from the original cut-off date. 

“Unless [Denney] is required to extend the deadline to obtain absentee ballots and expend additional resources notifying voters of the extended time for requesting a ballot, qualified electors will be deprived of a meaningful opportunity to exercise their right to vote…,” according to the suit.

Jones is challenging incumbent Congressman Russ Fulcher in the Republican Party primary for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. The district covers the northern part of the state, as well as west of Boise.

Matt Braynard, Jones’ campaign manager, said in a sworn affidavit that his staff had spoken to at least 134 people who had asked for help requesting their ballots on May 18 and Election Day, May 19.

“In nearly all cases, the website failed to load, generated error messages indicating the site’s hosting was broken, did not respond when a voter’s data was submitted, or warned that a voter’s information was incorrect despite repeatedly being verified,” Braynard said.

It’s unclear how many of them were successfully able to request their ballot.

“This is why we started a campaign 45 days ago,” Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told the Idaho Statesman Tuesday.

“We wish that the system could handle more, but it can’t,” Houck told the newspaper just a few hours before the deadline closed.

Houck didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Voters were able to request a ballot in-person by filling out the form and returning it to their county clerks’ offices, which were open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

More than 370,000 Idaho residents requested a ballot for this primary election, according to the Meridian Press. Nearly one-third of that total came from Ada County.

Voters have until June 2 at 8 p.m. to return their ballots to their county clerks’ offices to be counted.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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