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Recall petition to be filed against county clerk for alleged library election fraud

August 20, 2022

By Mike Weland

A former Boundary County Library Board trustee whose daughter was one of four whistleblowers fired attempted to file a signed recall petition Friday seeking to unseat Boundary County Clerk Glenda Poston for allegedly failing to properly administer library trustee elections and allegedly obstructing a recent trustee recall attempt. With Poston out of the office, clerks refused to accept it, saying that a blank, unsigned petition had to be filed before a signed one could be accepted.

Saying the "in blank" requirement is contrary to Idaho code or any other rule of law known to exist, the petition will be tendered again on Monday, according to attorney Jeff Boiler.

Having anticipated such a response, he informed the Idaho Attorney General's Office of the planned filing and provided him a copy of the filing to ensure it met statutory requirements.

"As Chief Elections Officer for Boundary County, Glenda Poston failed to notify the public of vacancies in Library District seats allowing incumbents to unlawfully remain in office, failed to hold elections for the Library District, failed to maintain an accurate election calendar, withheld and concealed non-exempt public records that evidence wrongdoing, failed to verify Library Trustees’ authority to serve, and in response made statements that disregard the public interest such as 'Nobody cares about the Library anyway' and 'I need to protect my employees,'” Lee Haarstick contends in the the petition. "Due to these conflicts of interest that implicate her in the crimes of election fraud as it pertains to the Library District, the Clerk has interfered with and obstructed the Library recall process by discouraging Petitioners from conducting a recall, falsely certifying Petitions and decertifying approved Petitions multiple times, providing inaccurate, misleading information to Petitioners on timing deadlines, all in an attempt to delay the process and further aid and abet the Library District’s previously documented acts of election law violations. In so doing, she has caused voters to sign multiple versions of Petitions, exposing them to criminal liability, and thereby prejudicing the entire recall effort. Specific evidence suggests this is a deliberate course of action."

The allegations of election fraud were laid out in an addendum to a tort claim against the library filed in May on behalf of the whistleblowers, whose allegations last year resulted in the early retirement of library director Craig Anderson and a subsequent two-week emergency shut down that stretched on for over three months last summer to allow the conduct of an independent investigation.

The 33-page report issued last July by attorney Sonyalee Nutsch of the Lewiston Firm Clements, Brown & McNichols PA has not yet been released to the public except in highly redacted form.

As to the allegations of election fraud, Idaho Code 34-1405 requires that “annually in December, the county clerk shall cause to be published the election calendar for the county for the following calendar year" in the county newspaper of record so as no notify the public of upcoming elections and deadlines for filing declarations of candidacy.

"From 1984 through 1992, the Library District and the Clerk of the County caused no notices of elections for the Library District to be published in the newspaper of general circulation, which was and still is the Bonners Ferry Herald. During this 8 year period the Library District did not give notice to the public of elections or of deadlines to submit Declarations of Candidacy," the tort claim alleges. "At the time, it was required that elections be held annually and that trustees serve 5 year terms.

"Beginning in 1993, the Library District began publishing election calendars in the newspaper, but still failed to hold an election for 27 years from at least 1988 to 2015 and again from 2016 to the present. Since 1988, there has only been one Library District election to elect two incumbent trustees. One trustee received 59 votes and the other trustee received 42 votes. The only reason that this particular election even took place in 2015 was due to two individuals with knowledge of library and election laws. Both had run for other office in the community including the office of Commissioner prior to running in the one and only library election.

"The election reform of 2011 transferred the responsibility of conducting all taxing district elections solely to the County Clerk. Prior to this sweeping reform, the Library District was responsible for holding its own election in 2010, something Director Sandra Ashworth had never done since becoming Director in 1997. In 2010, Ashworth held a fraudulent election. She did not publish a sample ballot and the results of the supposed election were never canvassed by the Commissioners or properly certified by the County Clerk as required by statute. This has been confirmed through public records requests and conversations with the Commissioner’s office and the Clerk’s office. Regardless, Director Ashworth declared the winner of her choosing, without ever actually holding an election according to the uniform election laws."

Citing improprieties in the appointments of former library board members Jim Marx, Rhoda Wilson and Judy Mace, the claim calls into question the validity of the terms of current trustees Ken Blockhan, whose 2021 election was never certified by commissioners or the county clerk, Wendy McClintock, not certified in the elections of 2010 or 2021, Bob Blanford as there was no public notice of vacancy in his district in 2017, and Lee Colson, who was appointed after the death of Judith Mace by an unqualified board by lack of quorum.

In library district zone two, the tort alleges, "The Library District failed to hold an election in 1995, 2000, 2011 and 2017. The Library District held an election in the wrong year in 2010, one year before the trustee’s six year term had ended. That same election was fraudulent and was never canvassed or certified by the Clerk. Additionally, the trustee term was stated to the public to be 5 years when in fact it was a 6 year term. In 2015, they again held an election in the wrong year. It should have been in 2017. In 2021, they declared trustees in the wrong year and failed to notify the Clerk and the Commissioners of the results. Elections will continue to be in the wrong years for Zone 2."

In zone four, "The Library District failed to hold an election in 1993, 2003, 2008 and 2017. The Chairman of the Board served in the wrong zone for 10 years from 2002 to 2012. Zone boundaries were changed so the Chairman could continue on the Board."

According to a guide published by the Idaho Secretary of State, those circulating the petition have 75 days from the date of filing to gather the signatures of 20-percent of the number of electors registered to vote in the last general election in the county.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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