Secretary of State candidate Phil McGrane defends Ysursa's, clerks' integrity

The candidate for Idaho secretary of state says vote counting will be fair and closely scrutinized.

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comApril 18, 2014 

Republican Phil McGrane says concerns about vote counting are a "legitimate question" after his endorsements from retiring Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and 24 of the 44 county clerks who oversee elections. But he says Idahoans can rest assured that the election will be run honestly.

"I think knowing where people sit actually helps, so people can keep an eye on that," McGrane told the Statesman. "We have very good people who are far and away much more dedicated to ensuring the process is fair above anything else, including supporting me."

On Tuesday, Rep. Lawerence Denney, one of four Republicans in the race, criticized Ysursa's role as honorary co-chairman for McGrane.

"Because of the appearance of conflict of interest, as secretary of state, I will not serve as anyone's campaign chairman for any campaign over which I serve as the chief election judge," Denney said. "Doing otherwise sends the wrong message for the chief elections officer."

Ysursa also is co-chairman of Gov. Butch Otter's campaign. He has said he doesn't count ballots and won't play favorites in the May 20 primary.

"I think Idaho voters consider Ben to be a model of integrity and fairness," McGrane said. "Ben's done this in the past. There's nothing unique, other than this happens to be the secretary of state's race."

McGrane, Ada County's chief deputy clerk, said he's stepping back from overseeing the vote count in the primary: "Because of any appearances, I'm going to be much more removed."

As usual, the public, candidates, party officials and members of the media are welcome to watch votes counted in Ada County, McGrane said.

Also, two more webcams are being installed to display the tabulation room at the Ada clerk's office.

"You can hop online and watch us count the ballots live as they cross the tabulator," McGrane said.

Webcams also cover the received absentee ballot cage, two blank ballot cages, the counted ballot cage and the elections warehouse.

Former Sens. Mitch Toryanski and Evan Frasure are also running in the GOP race.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

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