Today I was embarrassed to be a citizen of the city where Mike Gridley is Head Attorney. He acted like a juvenile delinquent when he was called as a witness. And you won’t believe what he said.
Starr Kelso, attorney for the Election Challenge was asking questions, and Gridley was tense and snippy with his responses. Then Gridley did something completely unprofessional. Grildey was sitting in the witness chair and Starr Kelso handed him some papers, then turned away for a second. While Starr’s attention was elsewhere, Gridley picked up the papers and purposefully dropped them on the floor. When Starr turned back, Gridley told him the papers “fell”, so Kelso bent down next to the witness chair to pick them up.
As Starr stood up, Mike Gridley said, under his breath, “If you have any more papers you can shove them up your ass!” Mr. Kelso turned to the judge and told him, within full hearing of the audience, what Gridley had just said. Gridley whined, “No I didn’t”, to which Starr said, “That’s a lie!”
(I was in the room but didn’t have a good view from that angle and I wasn’t close enough to hear the comment, but I have verification from two people, in addition to Starr, who heard it clearly. And I have two additional eye-witnesses who saw the intentional paper drop.)
The judge told them both to stop the bickering and continue on with the questions. I wish he had admonished Mike Gridley for behavior unbecoming to any attorney in a courtroom, let alone the Head Legal Counsel for the City of CdA.
We pay this man more than $120,000! The Mayor and City Council should insist that Mr. Gridley tender his resignation.
Deedie Beard, who just retired a month after the last election, was Elections Supervisor for Kootenai County for 27 years. It’s too bad that this controversial election was her swan song, so to speak, because she’s a very nice person.
However, Deedie admits she did not keep the Report of Absentee Ballots as required by Idaho law. (see yesterday’s update if you are unclear about this) Not only that, but Deedie seemed quite confused. She kept saying that the Secretary of State’s Data Base is the same as the Report required by law, and that’s just not the case, according to Tim Hurst, Chief Deputy Sec. of State, who is in charge of elections.
Tim Hurst was very clear in his testimony yesterday that it was a “failure of duty” by the Clerk that the required Report of Absentee Ballots was not kept. He said the Sec. of State’s Data Base does NOT substitute for the Report.
Deedie firmly admitted, though, that the 2051 number the city council approved was ONLY the number of papers counted by the machine. It does not show if the ballots were valid or legally cast.
And the whole residency requirement is a mess. Deedie said ,“We’re not the Election police!” (then who is?) There’s no procedure or requested information to show a person still lives at a certain address, no matter what.
(Gosh, we have to update our driver’s licenses every 4 years, why don’t we have to reaffirm our residency for voting every 4 years too?)
The final headline from Deedie was that “Every ballot that’s printed is accounted for.” But what about the 165 absentee ballots that were sent out to people but were never returned? Where are those ballots? They look exactly like any other ballot, there is no difference. Couldn’t they be slipped into a poll box along with someone’s regular ballot? And what about the leftover unvoted ballots? They do not destroy them or make them unusable like is done in other parts of the country.
Julie Chadderdon testified that when she went to Lakes Middle School to vote in the Fernan election, she was given the wrong ballot. She recognized that it was wrong and gave it back to the poll worker, who then gave her the correct one.
The point is that in the “split” precincts where part is in the city, part is in the county or Fernan, it’s easy for the wrong ballot to be given. Poll workers are supposed to mark in the poll book what kind of ballot each voter was given. (it’s called the ballot code) But for 53 people in the last election, NO ballot code was recorded.
It’s slipshod. The silver lining to this messy process will hopefully be a redesign of our election system…from the legislature all the way through.
The trial should wrap up tomorrow. I have no idea how it will all come out. The judge has allowed some things and blocked others; he seems willing to consider certain rational while refusing to address some big issues. So it should be interesting.
We have now seen, up close and personal, the chaos we call our election system, and it appears to need a serious overhaul. I think this Election Challenge has been a courageous effort and the voters of Kootenai County will be grateful when all is said and done. Goodnight