Idaho county commission recall elections defeated despite majority of votes in favor

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho was held on August 25, 2020. Though 73% of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the two commissioners, both recalls were defeated. In order to be approved, the recalls needed at least as many votes as the officeholders received when they were elected. A minimum of 710 votes in favor of recall was needed to remove Ellis from office, and 704 were cast. A minimum of 833 votes was needed to remove Hubert from office, and 698 were cast.

The recall effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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