Latah County election workers burned through more midnight oil than most other counties, finally pumping out unofficial election results just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Absentee ballots and results from the final precinct not counted before press time pushed several races in different directions than what early tallies showed.
County Commissioner District 3 stayed securely in incumbent Republican Dave McGraw’s hands. McGraw defeated Democratic opponent Carey Scott by a tally of 8,273 votes (53 percent) to 7,173 (47 percent). McGraw was the only Republican, in both local and statewide races, to best a Democrat on the Latah County ballot.
Precinct counts started rolling in online after 10 p.m. Tuesday, but the count stalled at 33 of 34 precincts reporting well past midnight. Latah County Clerk Henrianne Westberg said many precincts weren’t reporting tallies until close to 11 p.m., and absentee ballots were a drag on workers who had to physically remove the ballots from envelopes, flatten them out and place in tallying machines. Westberg said 4,717 absentee ballots came in late, similar to the other precincts.
“And it’s against the law to open them ahead of (polls closing),” Westberg said.
Several local races changed directions from late-night counting that boosted several Democrats to office. Kathie LaFortune was one such success in county commissioner District 1, with 8,555 votes, or 54.44 percent. Her Republican opponent, Tony Johnson, picked up 7,159 votes, or 45.56 percent.
The other two local contested races also went to Democrats, keeping with the overall voting pattern of the traditionally liberal Moscow. Rod Wakefield won the race for county assessor with 8,613 votes, or 56.14 percent, to Republican Annette Bieghler’s 6,728, or 43.86 percent. B.J. Swanson won the county treasurer race with 8,475 votes, or 54.51 percent, to Republican Peggy Gottschalk’s 7,074, or 45.49 percent.
All the statewide races were wins for Democrats in Latah County, and Proposition 2 expanding Medicaid came in with a resounding “yes,” at a margin of 70 percent to 29 percent. Proposition 1 — authorizing historical horse racing at certain locations where live or simulcast horse racing occurs — failed at the same margin of 70 percent to 29 percent.
Westberg said official results may be ready by Friday or Tuesday.
“In this day and age everyone wants information instantaneously, but they don’t realize these things take time and people have to physically put the ballots in the machine,” she said.
A total of 16,174 votes were cast from a pool of 22,699 registered voters, for a turnout of about 71 percent. Those figures do not reflect same-day registration, so voter turnout could change under the official results.
Holm may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2275. Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4.