RUPERT — First there was a tie. Then there was a coin toss. And now there’s been a recount, and Dick Galbraith is the winner of the second Heyburn City Council seat.
Officials hand counted the ballots Monday and realized the race had not been a tie, as originally tallied on election night.
Galbraith later lost a coin toss to determine the winner, and so officially asked for a recount under Idaho’s election laws. The recount showed Galbraith received 113 votes, instead of tying with candidate Glen Loveland for 112 votes.
Galbraith said he was “obviously happy.”
“I had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t right,” Galbraith said. “And honestly, I just had too much heartburn over losing to a coin toss.”
Tim Hurst, chief deputy for the Idaho Secretary of State, said the discrepancy between a machine count on election night and a count by hand usually occurs because voters do not follow directions when marking their ballots.
“They don’t mark their ballots correctly or the marks are not dark enough,” Hurst said.
Robert Berry, deputy attorney general for the state, was also on hand to watch.
Loveland, who was declared the winner of the seat at the Nov. 15 coin toss, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the recount and said it may have been “a waste of taxpayer money.”
“I’m fine with it,” he said after Galbraith was declared the winner. “I said I was fine flying with the coin toss and I’m fine with this.”
Galbraith said it was not a waste of taxpayer money.
“It changed the outcome,” Galbraith said. And “I think it changed it for the better.”
Both candidates shook hands when the election was finally and officially called for Galbraith.
Forty-five minutes after the Minidoka County Sheriff Eric Snarr arrived at the Minidoka County Judicial Center with ballots, precinct and county officials had hand-counted the two precincts and a small stack of absentee ballots.
Heyburn City Councilwoman Joanne Justesen and Heyburn Mayor Cleo Gallegos sat in the audience and watched.
Justesen said she had never witnessed the recount process.
“I think it is very interesting. The whole process, including the coin toss, has been interesting,” she said.
County Clerk Tonya Page opened the bag for each precinct and showed the content to Galbraith and Loveland, the only two candidates present.
Galbraith and Loveland watched from behind as Kay Moore, a county employee, read the votes from each ballot.
The two precinct officials marked each vote on a sheet of paper as it was read.
Hurst said this was the third vote recount in the state this year.
There is no cost for the candidate requesting a recount in a tie vote, he said.
With larger counties, like Ada County, they will pull a sample of ballots to hand count and then run them through the vote tabulator machine; if the two are within an acceptable range all the ballots are recounted by machine. If the difference is outside the range, the ballots are hand counted.