Ada County highway commissioner lost election, sued for recount. A judge just ruled

Rebecca Arnold and Alexis Pickering
Posted at 11:02 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 13:02:38-05

This article was written by Hayley Harding of the Idaho Statesman.

Rebecca Arnold’s bid to keep her seat on the Ada County Highway District commission may now be over after a judge dismissed her appeal of the results of a recount vote.

Arnold lost the ACHD seat she’s held for four terms to opponent and political newcomer Alexis Pickering by two votes, according to an election night tally, and by four votes after a recount.

Arnold, a Boise lawyer, had sued her opponent as well as two Ada County officials, alleging that votes were not counted properly according to state law and asking for a second recount done by hand. She also asked that some votes be thrown out.

Senior Fourth District Judge Ronald Wilper in Boise dismissed the appeal Monday. In his dismissal, he wrote that Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane and county Prosecutor Jan Bennetts followed the rules laid out for recounts in Idaho law.

He also wrote that he did not believe that a hand count would necessarily get a more accurate result.

“This is because the element of human error is introduced in any hand-count, especially a hand-count of thousands of ballots,” he wrote.

The dismissal likely means that Pickering will be the next ACHD commissioner representing District 2, which generally extends from the Boise River west to Linder Road, south of Ustick Road and north of Interstate 84, including part of the Boise Bench. Pickering is a community health strategist with the Central District Health Department.

Melanie Folwell, Pickering’s campaign manager, said in a text message that Ada County’s recount was thorough. Recounts, she said, are typically more accurate than results on election night because they are more carefully handled.

“We are pleased that the court recognized this, and, as we argued, found no legal error,” Folwell said.

Arnold had not seen the dismissal when reached for comment. Her attorney, former Idaho attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy, had no immediate comment. The elections office and the prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.