Canyon County election officials say they have identified the culprit behind Election Day’s slow vote counting process: hundreds of ballots with tiny flaws. Canyon County was among the state’s slowest for counting ballots after polls closed on Nov. 8. In fact, the county finally posted unofficial results at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 9, beating out Bonner County, the last of Idaho’s 44 counties to finish counting, by about four hours. Initially, Canyon County officials believed the delays were caused by voters marking ballots illegibly, causing the machines to spit out ballots and election staff to review and tally each by hand. County spokesman Joe Decker also attributed the slow pace to troubleshooting and the time it took to call in a technician. … County officials then reached out to the printing company, Caxton Printing Ltd., and encouraged company officials to look at whether “timing tracks” — a sequence of squares and other shapes printed on the edges of both sides of the ballot — were properly aligned. Scott Gipson, president of Caxton Printing, reviewed some of the ballots and concluded that between 800 and 1,000 ballots printed for Canyon County had misaligned timing tracks.
The Press-Tribune examined a ballot and noticed that the discrepancy of the timing tracks was minuscule, even tough to detect with the human eye. Gipson said the flaws can be seen by holding up one of the ballots against a light source, which showed a small section of the timing track printed on one side of the ballot failed to match with the track on the opposite page.
The flaw caused troubles for the counting machines and ultimately the entire vote tallying process, Canyon County Clerk Chris Yamamoto said. During the counting process, Yamamoto said the county lost four hours alone when the machines were counting and spitting out ballots cast during early voting.