ASHTON – Tuesday’s election between two Ashton City Council candidates may be the subject of a recount.
Challenger John Scafe received 94 votes or 19 percent compared to incumbent Councilman Jerry Funke who garnered 93 votes or 18.8 percent of the ballots cast.
Earlier this week, Funke requested information from the county on the possibility of a recount, but as of Thursday, he didn’t know if he would pursue the recount.
“I haven’t decided,” he said.
Scafe and Funke have been friends for 50 years. They both spoke highly of each other, and Funke says he’s not bitter about the election results.
Scafe says he’s OK with whatever Funke decides to do.
“I’m not scared of it (the recount),” Scafe said. “I won’t be offended. I’m not that kind of a person. I’d be a little disappointed, but it’s not a biggy for me.”
According to Fremont County Clerk Abbie Mace, Funke has 20 days following Thursday’s canvassing of votes to decide what he wants to do. Mace reported that the second ballot count came back with the same result as Tuesday’s.
Should Funke opt to have the ballots recounted again, he’s required to contact the state attorney general on his own.
“There is no such thing as an automatic recount. The candidate has to request it, but he might not have to pay for it,” Mace said.
According to Idaho State Code 34-2309, the state won’t require Funke to cover the cost of the recount because it was such a close race.
The state code reports that a free recount may be held if the “difference between the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes on a measure is less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast for that office or five votes, whichever is greater.” All requests for a recount need to be made in writing, it said.
Mace reported that had there been a greater difference in the votes between Funke and Scafe, it would cost Funke $100 per district. There are two voting districts in Ashton.
Funke has until Nov. 27 to ask for the recount. Should he proceed, the state attorney general will send Mace the order for the recount and the day and time it is to be held. The attorney general’s office will send representatives to oversee the recount.
“They view us doing the recount,” Mace said.
The Fremont County Sheriff’s office will also help with the recount, she said.
“When I get the order, the sheriff’s office will also receive an order to impound the ballots. Right now, we have them sealed by law,” she said.
The ballots will be turned over to the sheriff’s office that will hold onto them until the day of the recount. County workers will then count the vote again.
“The attorney general will ratify the results. If there’s a change or if it (the vote) stays the same, the attorney general makes that determination,” she said.
Mace says that the recount must be held within 10 days of the county receiving the order from the state attorney general.
“I’m sure they’ll set that date and time when they send me the order. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call where they say ‘This date works best for us.’ I won’t know until I get the information,” she said.
Should Funke proceed with a recount, it will be the second one held in Fremont County since 2008. At that time, then incumbent Sheriff Ralph Davies contested the election results after he ran against his opponent and current Sheriff Len Humphries. The difference in votes proved large enough that the state required Davis to pay $1,300 for the service.
“It was a fairly close election, but not enough to be free. It didn’t meet that criteria, and Davies had to pay $100 per district,” Mace said.
As for Tuesday’s election, the turnout was more than election officials expected. Mace reported that 32 percent of voters cast ballots. The county provided paper ballots and counted those votes by hand. Mace opted not to use voting equipment in an effort to save the county money.
“We went the cheaper way, so it didn’t cost the taxpayers as much,” she said.
County ballot workers worked until around 1:30 Wednesday morning to finish counting the votes.
Mace said that because the vote between Funke and Scafe was so close a recount might be a good idea.
“If I were in (Funke’s) shoes, I probably would because of the closeness of the race. It’s his right to do that,” she said.