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Idaho town faces recount on LGBT non-discrimination ordinance

Thursday, June 19, 2014
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POCATELLO, Idaho — A recount has been ordered of last month’s vote by Pocatello residents retaining an ordinance banning discrimination against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The recount is set for June 27 and comes at the request of a group opposed to the city ordinance approved by the Pocatello City Council in June 2013 and backed by voters on May 20.

Pocatello“The Secretary of State sent an order to the (Bannock County) Clerk of the Court,” Ian Service, chief civil deputy attorney for Bannock County, told the Idaho State Journal (http://bit.ly/1vYBjDh). “They will come here and run the recount just like election night.”

Officials say that 4,943 people voted to keep the law in place, while 4,863 people voted to rescind it. The ballots have been impounded and are being held by the Bannock County Sheriff, and the recount will take place at the Bannock County Courthouse.

Representatives of those for and against the non-discrimination ordinance will be allowed to observe the recount.

The Pocatello City Council passed the ordinance banning discrimination against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Supporters say it also protects people from losing their jobs or homes because they are members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Some residents contend it’s a bad law because it forces business owners to choose between their personal beliefs and their profession. Proposition One on the May 20 ballot asked city residents whether to keep the law or repeal it. A “yes” vote was a vote to repeal the law.

A group called Vote Yes Pocatello asked for the recount earlier this month.

Ralph Lillig, who represents the group, has also filed a lawsuit in 6th District Court contending Bannock County failed to fulfill a May 27 public records request in a timely manner. He’s seeking information about the May 20 election.

“The records produced thus far indicate that the conduct of the election suffered from malconduct, fraud, and corruption sufficient enough to change the result of the election,” Lillig wrote in the lawsuit.

Service called the allegations unfounded.

“The first request was for 15 items,” he said. “We have sent them no less than a dozen emails with attachments with that information.”

Service said he responded to the public records request quickly, but that most of the information Lillig sought wasn’t even public record at the time it was sought.

“Most of what was requested was information that our election officials were still completing as part of their election wrap-up,” Service said. “They are not public record until we are done with them.”

Election results have to be sent to the Idaho Secretary of State, where they are certified and sent back to Bannock County, where they become public records, he said.

Service said he explained that to Lillig at a June 2 meeting attended by Pocatello attorney James Ruchti, a member of a group backing the non-discrimination ordinance.

“I thought Ian was fantastic at that meeting,” Ruchti said. “He went through what was a very long list of documents that Vote Yes Pocatello wanted. He went through it methodically.”

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