Ballot recount will be a ‘long, involved process’ which will include state official

Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff’s office, pictured here in October. A recount of the ballots, which were only five away from meeting the two-thirds required to pass, will be requested by the City of Fruitland.

Monday night’s City Council meeting covered a wide variety of topics affecting the community. Following is a break-down of some the items that were addressed.

1.) The issue of the Fruitland city bond failure, which only failed by five ballots, was revisited, and a recount was ordered following the approval from the City Council.

The city was attempting to pass a $2.6 million bond during the Consolidated Election on Nov. 5 to expand the city’s police department, expand parking, improve vehicle traffic flow at the facility, improve the façade of the building and fix the roof.

Voters ultimately defeated the bond, albeit slightly. With 267 voting against it, and 520 voting for it, there still were not enough ‘yes’ votes to reach the 66.67% required for a two-thirds majority.

Because the margin was so narrow, City Clerk Rick Watkins told the council the recount will not cost the city anything, saving a great deal of money for Fruitland taxpayers.

Payette County Clerk Betty Dressen further explained that a recount will not end up costing taxpayers because of election consolidation money that comes from the state. She explained that money will cover costs to the county related to the recount. That would be for people coming from outside, such as poll-workers.

Dressen said a recount could be on the horizon for the New Plymouth School District, too, as the person who lost by one vote had already called her office to inquire about the recount.

Dressen tells everyone the same thing: nothing can be done about a recount until after the County Commissioners canvass the vote. This essentially means the commissioners verify the information about ballot counts presented to them by the clerk’s office. Due to the holiday, commissioners did not meet until Tuesday, but they did approve what was presented to them at that time, Dressen said.

Following the canvass, once the County Clerk’s office gets a request for a recount they notify Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s a long, involved process with forty-four counties dealing with recounts,” Dressen said, and a state official having to attend each recount, which will be done by hand for Payette County.

“They will send someone down to watch our people count again,” she said.

Watkins assured the council that “no dead people voted,” which garnered some laughter from the crowd.

City Attorney Stephanie Bonney asked whether the council needed to send someone to oversee the recount; however, Watkins said he saw no need for such a measure.

2.) In response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order to have the POW-MIA flag flown at all federal buildings, Mayor Brian Howell took the opportunity, on Veteran’s Day, to make a proposal in which all city buildings in Fruitland also fly the POW-MIA flag.

The proposal was approved unanimously by the council.

3.) Although Community Serve Day doesn’t happen until April, organizers are working well ahead of the event to ensure Fruitland gets more attention.

One of the organizers, Evelyn Dame, stopped by to give a presentation to the council on the work that has already been done through the efforts of the volunteer-led nonprofit. Dame showed a short video to the council that featured images of volunteers taking part in community projects in New Plymouth, Nyssa, Vale, Payette and Adrian, just to mention a few. Dame wanted to encourage more projects from the Fruitland area, noting there is a lot that can be done in the community.

Dame also wants to remind the public that applications for projects can be submitted online at Community Serve Day’s website starting in January.

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