Monday, July 15, 2024

Group seeks to recall Boundary County Clerk

Staff Writer | September 1, 2022 1:00 AM

Story has been updated.

BONNERS FERRY — A recall being organized against Boundary County Clerk Glenda Poston is claiming election fraud in connection to the Boundary County Library.

Cherry Grainger, Boundary County Elections clerk, told the Bonners Ferry Herald that the petition for Poston’s recall was submitted Aug. 19 by Lee Haarstick. A former Boundary County Library Board trustee, Haarstick is the father of one of the self-proclaimed whistleblowers involved in the tort claim against the library district.

Haarstick informed county staff that attorney Jeffrey Boiler is working with the recall. Boiler is also representing those who filed the library tort claim. Among those filing that claim is Boiler’s wife, Dana.

Grainger asked for a blank copy of the petition, since it is the county’s policy to approve a petition with the county attorney, Tevis Hull prior to a petition running.

On Monday, Aug. 22, the petition organizers returned to the Clerk’s office to submit the petition with the 20 required signatures and a blank petition document. At the first review by Hull, the required explanation exceeded 200 words, which is not allowed by Idaho Code. The group was told the recall petition had to be revised and resubmitted. As of the afternoon of Aug. 31, the petition has been re-submitted for approval.

Claims the petition was not approved due to Poston being on vacation or the staff refused to accept the petition are incorrect, Grainger said.

The petition was rejected simply because organizers did not follow county procedure, she said. She added that having a petition approved by legal council is not required by Idaho Code, but is something the county likes to do.

Jason Hancock, deputy to the Idaho Secretary of State for Elections, told the Bonners Ferry Herald that due to the timeline of the petition it will not be on the ballot for the November general election even if enough valid signatures were collected once the petition is approved.

As of Aug. 31, the petition has not yet been approved and circulating the petition is not yet allowed. Sept. 23, is the deadline for the County Clerk to order a recall election for the Nov. 8 general election. The recall organizers may have 75 days to collect signatures, but they must follow the Sept. 23 deadline in order to be on the November ballot.

Hancock said being so deep in the calendar he didn’t think there would be enough time to collect signatures.

One obstacle for the recall is Poston running unopposed for County Clerk on the November ballot. Idaho Code only allows that an official may be recalled for the term they are serving. If Poston is recalled in November, she would be removed, only to be sworn in again as Clerk in January 2023.

Per Idaho Code, once the petition is approved, circulating it can begin once Poston has been in office 90 days in her next term.

Hancock said the petition can go through the approval process sooner than Poston’s first 90 days, but the 75-day countdown of collecting valid signatures starts at the date of approval.

The petition can be turned in prior to the 75 days if the required amount of valid signatures are collected.

The other difficulty for the recall is getting it on the ballot. The deadline for a recall to be on the March ballot is in January. Due to Poston not being in office for 90 days and the deadline of January, no recall for Poston will be on next March’s ballot.

April is the deadline for the County Clerk to order a recall election for the May election. The recall could make this timeline if enough valid signatures are collected.

In order to recall any officer, per Idaho State Code, a majority of the votes cast at the special recall must be in favor of such recall. Also, the number of votes cast in favor of the recall must be equal to or exceed the votes cast at the last general election for that officer.

If by vote the recall election fails, then by Idaho Code, no further recall petition shall be filed against the same officer during his current term of office, unless the petitioners pay the whole amount of the expenses for the preceding recall election to the public treasury.

Per the document “Recalling Elected Official” prepared by the Secretary of State, all signatures for the petition must be turned in at once. In addition, a separate petition is required for each official being recalled.

When recalling a county officeholder, such as Poston or trustees of the Boundary County Library Board, the petition must be signed by registered electors of the county equal in number to 20% of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general election held in the county at which the office was elected.

Grainger said she has not received any updates from the Boundary County Library board recall organizers since the petition was approved.

The library board recall was approved Aug. 11. While the petitioners have 75 days to collect signatures, the County Clerk has until Sept. 23 to approve any recall election in the November election.

In the event there are not enough signatures on the recall petitions, those holding the office will continue to hold their position. No new recall petition can be circulated for a period of 90 days against that individual.

If the petition has the required number of signatures, organizers will be notified the petition is in proper form. Officer holders are given five business days to resign. If the individual chooses not to resign within five days, the Idaho Secretary of State then calls a special election.

On the ballot, the recall organizers and the official have a maximum of 200 words to lay out their case. A special recall election would then be held, either on its own or in conjunction with another election.

If successful, the recall takes effect immediately. The position would then be filled in the manner provided by law for filling a vacancy arising from any other cause.