December 5, 2011

Did Mike Really Win?

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 3:27 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter

New information has recently been discovered about the controversial CdA election of 2009, and it sheds even more doubt on the validity of Mike Kennedy’s victory.

I’m sure you are all aware that Cliff Hayes, our new County Clerk, and his staff have spent months scouring the rolls of registered voters, verifying addresses and making certain that voters are listed only for the elections under which they qualify.

Cliff also broke with tradition when he and his staff held a training day for poll workers and paid them for attending.  Workers were instructed on new upgrades, security measures and accuracy policies. One of the new rules is that if a potential voter’s name is not pre-printed in the poll book, as is done for folks who’ve been verified as city residents, then the poll workers are to call the Elections Dept. so the voter’s address can be double-checked.

Well an interesting thing happened on election day 2011.  Two voters came into a polling place but their names were not listed in the poll book and, upon calling, it was determined that the people did not live within the city limits.  The people were shocked; they couldn’t believe it, and they offered the comment that they voted at that same polling place in 2009 and they voted for Mike Kennedy!

Mike Kennedy won his re-election in 2009 by only 5 votes.  During the lengthy and sometimes contentious Election Challenge trial that followed, the court decided to invalidate 3 of Mike’s votes.  That brought Mike’s margin of victory down to 2.  Now, it seems, the election was possibly a tie or, in my opinion, an almost certain win for Jim Brannon and probably other candidates in that election as well.  Let me explain my rationale:

As a result of the Elections Dept’s new diligence, “hundreds” of people were turned away from the polls in the CdA city election this year, according to anecdotal reports from poll workers. They were turned away because they don’t live in the city.

The City of CdA has several highly problematic areas.  There are some voting precincts, called “split precincts”, that are partly in the city and partly in the county.  Folks on one side of a street can vote and on the other side they cannot.  But their mailing addresses all say Coeur d’Alene.  There are also a few “islands” of county land within the city.  These areas are completely surrounded by city, but the folks within the island area are not city residents, they don’t pay city taxes and are not allowed to vote.  There again, their mail still comes to a Coeur d’Alene address.  So it can be very confusing for both voters and poll workers, and careful oversight is essential.

But back during the Election Challenge of 2009, then Elections Supervisor Deedie Beard stated that her department was “not the Residency Police” and they did not investigate addresses.  Yet, as I wrote in my newsletter back then (link below), even the Idaho Fish & Game Dept. is tenacious about tracking residency requirements.  And their rules are much more stringent than for voting!

It’s also incredulous to me that, when asked, back in ’09, about the two people who registered to vote from their business address on Industrial Way, Deedie Beard admitted her staff didn’t even question whether that was a residential address.

The system was obviously loosey-goosey during the long term of Dan English as County Clerk and Deedie as Elections Supervisor.  But now there’s a new team in place with a firm resolve to follow the law with care and diligence.

The contrast between the two teams is remarkable.  Let’s just compare the official 2009 election report to that of 2011. The report is called the “Canvass of the Votes”, presented by those who conducted the election and it must be officially approved by the designated Board of Canvassers, which is set by law.  In 2009 that board was the CdA City Council, this year, because the law changed, it was the County Commissioners.

In 2009, the report presented by Dan English and Deedie Beard to the CdA City Council was less than one page long. It showed only the number of voters, number of ballots and percentage of turnout. Testimony was minimal.  No problems were listed or discussed, no details divulged. And the CdA City Council asked absolutely no questions, even though the election was the closest in modern memory.  They just quickly voted to approve…move on, nothing to see here.

The report of 2011 was a different story entirely.  Cliff Hayes and his staff prepared an in-depth report, which they handed out to members of the public, media and officials attending the County Commissioners’ meeting.  Cliff publicly explained the report, which included all the tabulations and tallies as well as many audits and cross-references.  The report itemized every absentee vote that was disallowed, with detailed reasons for each decision. It included listings of legal voters who voted in the wrong precincts as well as the 24 improper voters who were given city ballots because some poll workers did not adhere to the new rules. (Almost all the improper voters were from one precinct. Those poll workers will almost certainly not be back again.)  And then Cliff Hayes answered the questions of the Commissioners.  That’s the way it should be.

Cliff and his staff would probably tell you that it wasn’t perfect; there were mistakes made.  They’ve already held meetings and compiled a list of suggested improvements to install next time.  But we are worlds ahead of where we were in the sloppy election of 2009, and that gives me hope.

The Election Challenge lawsuit of 2009 is not done yet either. The case was appealed to the State Supreme Court where it sits ready for consideration at some point in the near future.

Did Mike Kennedy really win with 2 votes?  Did Deanna Goodlander actually get 29 votes to retain her seat?  We may never know for sure, but we can be heartened by the professional integrity and dedication of our current Elections Dept.  Thank you!

Have a great week –Mary


  1. The impact of Cliff Hayes’ and his entire staff’s effort on restoring the integrity to Kootenai County elections cannot be overstated. They undertook a massive effort to ensure that voters were registered properly and given ballots only for elections in which they were legally entitled to vote.

    At the same time, Jim and Christine Brannon and Starr Kelso deserve the thanks of not only every legal voter in Kootenai County but throughout Idaho. Had it not been for their courage and tenacity in pursuing the election contest, many of the “mistakes” of the previous county clerk and his staff would not have been uncovered. Illegal practices such as the early opening of absentee ballots before the polls closed, a practice approved by Secretary of State Ben Ysursa in violation of Idaho election law, would have continued.

    In his memorandum decision of October 5, 2010, the honorable Senior Judge Charles Hosack said, “…the Court is impressed by the complexity of the election process, and at how well the County ran the election.” The corrections made by the new County Clerk Cliff Hayes and his staff emphasize that Hosack was right in recognizing the complexity of the election process, but Hosack was completely wrong in declaring that the former County Clerk and his staff ran the 2009 City election well.

    Comment by Bill — December 5, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  2. A stolen election is a violation of the most critical trust imaginable. This data needs to go to a Federal Grand Jury.

    Comment by justinian — December 5, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  3. Justinian,

    When you understand that it was the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who tried to prevent and defeat the election contest lawsuit; when you understand that the present US Attorney for the District of Idaho isn’t interested in the integrity of Kootenai County’s elections; and finally when you understand that neither our local nor regional newspaper wanted this story reported in a way that would educate the public about the way Idaho’s elections can be manipulated as a result of the lazy and incompetent actions or inactions of public employees, then you’ll understand why this will never reach a federal grand jury.

    Comment by Bill — December 5, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

  4. What is the federal statute of limitations? If the current US attorney is not interested, maybe the next one will be.

    Comment by justinian — December 5, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  5. The County and its Prosecuting Attorney, the US Idaho Attorney, the City of Cda officials, and the former County Clerk certainly has a disregard for the honesty! Shame on all of them!

    Comment by LTR — December 5, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  6. Mary’s post points out something very important: The former county clerk and his staff said that it wasn’t their job to verify that would-be electors were qualified to vote in particular elections (“We are not the residency police,” and “We don’t do bedchecks.”) They were wrong. Determining that would-be electors were qualified to vote in particular elections was precisely one of their statutorily-prescribed duties in 2009 (IC §50-445 — Upon receipt of an application for an absent elector’s ballot within the proper time, the city clerk receiving it shall examine the records of his office to ascertain whether or not such applicant is registered and lawfully entitled to vote as requested, and, if found to be so, he shall arrange for the applicant to vote by absent elector’s ballot.). The City contracted with the County, and the contract provided that the County Clerk would comply with all provisions of Title 50 (as if he were the City Clerk). It took a new, competent, diligent, and committed County Clerk with an equally up-to-the-job staff to do it.

    Comment by Bill — December 5, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  7. Maybe they all know that if one goes down then they ALL could go down. So it is best to keep playing nice with each other and keep the rest of us quiet.

    Comment by concerned citizen — December 6, 2011 @ 6:42 am

  8. CC, if you are right, they will start exhibiting a number of signs. Resignations from boards to avoid statue of limitations, for example. Shredding of documents. Real panic in some cases. It should be interesting to watch.

    Comment by Pariah — December 6, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  9. Do you think the public will be upset to learn that two, maybe even three, of current the city council members may not have been the true choice of the majority of CdA voters in 2009? These are the people making the huge decisions about our city’s future and they refuse to give the public even an advisory vote on McEuen.

    Comment by mary — December 6, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  10. Of course many do believe they know. Of course many believe they knew this at the time of that election. Why do you think that English ended his career after so many years of service when confronted with his job performance? Why did Kennedy retain his own expensive counsel when he did not need to? The question now is how far will the repercussions go? How many money trails will get pursued? How deep do the tentacles reach? Punishments, fines, hard time??? They can destroy documents but they cannot destroy history (even if they try to rewrite it).

    Comment by Wallypog — December 6, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  11. Mary,

    The public should be concerned going back to the 2007 and 2005 elections. Remember that Kennedy’s eligibility to run initially was questioned because he did not live inside the city but was supposedly renting a basement room where he slept overnight for 30 days prior to the election. He was declared to be eligible by the same county clerk who in 2011 did not consider his office to be the “residency police” and who did “not do bedchecks” and by the same Secretary of State staff who had no problem violating Idaho law by allowing county clerks to open absentee ballots before the polls closed. Maybe if English and Beard and Ysursa and Hurst had bothered to do what the law required them to do, the outcome might have been different then. Maybe if our local and regional news/views/skewspapers had bothered to look at the law and inform the public, the outcome might have been different then. It’s often said that elections have consequences. Unfortunately, so does dereliction of duty by public officials and (alleged) news media.

    The point of Mary’s post is that while we’re still stuck with Ysursa and Hurst, we now have a County Clerk at least trying his best to comply with the law. I suspect our state’s honest and diligent legislators will appreciate that. The state’s honest and diligent judges should, too. The result will be that at least in Kootenai County, the voters will decide which candidates are elected.

    Comment by Bill — December 6, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  12. “The result will be that at least in Kootenai County, the voters will decide which candidates are elected.”

    For now. Like a good garden, the body politic needs to weed the elected crop regularly and often.

    Comment by Pariah — December 6, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  13. ahh nothing like a good witch hunt to waste taxpayers money!

    Comment by murphyk — December 6, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  14. What’s the witch hunt, Murphk?

    Comment by mary — December 6, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  15. Witch Hunt!!!??? When does the season begin? How long does it run? Are there only special ‘units’ that are open, or does is it open statewide? Is the hunt limited to a specific manner of ‘harvest’ such as rifle, archery, throwing axes, or knives…or or is the ‘harvest’ open to any method? Does my Idaho F&G ‘sportsman package’ cover it, or do I have to purchase a separate tag like I had to do to get a wolf tag? Can more than one tag be purchased?

    Comment by Joe Six-Pack — December 6, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  16. murphyk,

    It was Kootenai County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John “Witch Hunt” Cafferty who, in one of the early hearings, referred to those of us seeking facts as being on a “witch hunt.” Cafferty ultimately apologized publicly in front of the court for that remark, and as we might now say to him: “Hey, John, we found the witches.” The “witches” were not the innocent people who unknowingly voted illegally as a result of poor election administration. The “witches” were the public officials who out of laziness, incompetence, or worse failed to perform their official duties diligently and whose failures of duty so badly contaminated Idaho’s election processes. The “witches” were those people who knowingly and intentionally voted illegally and apparently got away with it.

    Comment by Bill — December 6, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

  17. What is really funny is the video game playing former clerk and his current comments regards the failures of his office in the failed process being discussed here. To quote:

    That was a good and very, very accurate election. I am proud of the job I did and my election workers, and in particular Deedie Beard.

    Yep, Dan the Tote a Vote proprietor BRAGS about the failures his office supervised. What a delusional world view.

    Comment by justinian — December 6, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  18. justinian,
    What is truly sad is it is not just Dan English. It seems to be the whole political madness from Bloem, Goodlander, Kennedy, city attorney, etc. the whole lot of them. Not one of them seem to care about the populace they are to represent.

    Comment by concerned citizen — December 7, 2011 @ 6:47 am

  19. Of course, NOW Mr. Kennedy has concerns about the process!

    Last night we were forced to make a decision on accepting the canvass of votes that was done by the County Commissioners from results provided by the County Clerk’s office. Neither of these entities do we have any control over. Now I don’t believe there were problems or mistakes sufficient to have changed the outcomes of any election, so I voted to approve it. It was essentially a formality. But I think it’s a change/clarification that needs to be addressed by the Legislature because city councils are being asked to rubber stamp a process that we have zero control over.

    Moreover, several of my colleagues had questions last night, but Clerk Cliff Hayes was not present, nor was anyone from his office. I think that is irresponsible and a failure on the part of the County Clerk to not be there to stand for questions on the conduct of the election that he administered, especially when it’s obvious that there were clear mistakes in this election process.

    What a difference an election can make!

    Comment by Pariah — December 7, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  20. Pariah, do you possibly mean “an election contest”?

    Comment by Ancientemplar — December 7, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  21. I don’t know why Mr. Kennedy expected Country Clerk Hayes to be present for questioning at the City Council meeting. Hayes’ duties were concluded following his detailed presentation of the election results, response to questions about election issues and the subsequent acceptance by the County Commission of his report, which completed their canvass. The law doesn’t require a sort of canvass oversight by the city which is apparently what Kennedy would like.

    If any council members had questions, they should have been present for the canvass.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — December 7, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  22. 🙂

    Comment by Pariah — December 7, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  23. “If any council members had questions, they should have been present for the canvass.”

    Correct. But grandstanding is more fun.

    Comment by Pariah — December 7, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  24. Here’s one hilarious part of Kennedy’s attempt to make Cliff look bad: The person from the city who used to be in charge of elections, City Clerk Susan Weathers, did attend the County Commissioner’s Canvass of the votes last month. She received the multi-page, three part packet of information they passed out to everyone. So why did the city council not just ask Susan to give give a report last night…Oops, she wasn’t at the city council meeting either! She was at the Public Records/Open Meeting presentation over at the Spokesman building.

    Note to MikeK: Read the blog comment by Dan English (on that other blog) at 10:04am today, where he says

    ” I thought it was an odd quirk of the consolidation law when I first read that the county commissioners would be acting in place of all of the other elected boards for cities, highway districts, etc. and conduct the official canvass for those other district’s elections.”

    Dan English, former County Clerk, seems clear that the county commissioners now act in place of all the other elected boards. That’s means you Mike. They replace you as Canvassers of the vote; they don’t have to come to report to you. Unless of course they want to.

      So here are two big question for Mike K:

    1. Did anyone from the city invite Cliff Hayes to talk with the council at last night’s meeting?
    2. Who put the Canvass of the Votes on the City Council Agenda? and when?

    Comment by mary — December 7, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  25. he’s such a putz

    Comment by Ancientemplar — December 7, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  26. AT – succinct. Worse, he is an elected official acting, yes ACTING for the camera and playing to his own choir and not looking out for the general public interests. That makes him a failure and an odious one at that.

    Comment by Pariah — December 8, 2011 @ 7:41 am

  27. FWIT Kennedy is consistent. From the start it was clear that he was not about anything but hisself and his MO was and remains entirely classless.

    Comment by Wallypog — December 8, 2011 @ 8:04 am

  28. Consistent in some ways, in others he runs (or waddles) with the wind.

    Comment by Pariah — December 8, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  29. So I guess a win is a win. Oh wait, that is ANOTHER council members saying. 🙂

    Comment by concerned citizen — December 8, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

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