November 2018 Treasure Valley Voters Guide




Welcome to our Voter Guide for the November general election, presented by the Idaho Statesman and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

Important Dates:

Looking for more coverage? Visit IdahoStatesman.com/election for previews, voting information and other things to know before you vote.

...Please note: Candidates' responses have not been edited.


Ada County Clerk

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  • Candidate picture

    Graham Carter
    (I)

  • Candidate picture

    Phil McGrane
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Kelly Yvonne Mitchell
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

What education and experience do you have to prepare you to be a county clerk?

What would you like to accomplish as a county clerk?

What will you do to improve the public's access to and treatment by the courts?

What will you do to further the public's access to public information?

How would you rate your county when it comes to cybersecurity? Are election security improvements needed, and what would those entail?

Should Idaho continue to participate in Kansas’ Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program? Why?

What is one thing voters should understand about this office that they perhaps don't?

Idaho's new court records system has been in place in the Treasure Valley for some time now. What parts of it are working well for Idahoans, and what parts are not? Did the state adequately support counties during the transition?

Age 38
Education Bachelor of Science Computer Science
Prior political experience State Delegate, campaign work for other candidates
Civic involvement Community education, vollunteerism with Idaho not-for-profits, campaign work, soccer coaching
Years living in Idaho 16
Family Married with 3 amazing kids
As a business owner, I have 15 years of experience managing and operating all aspects of business. Many aspects of this will directly translate to the position as county clerk such as scheduling, proper and timely filing of forms, efficient budgeting, customer service, and effectively managing business relationships.

As a computer scientist, I have years of experience developing and maintaining software and hardware systems. As much of our public record is available online or via computer, I believe my experience will be highly valuable in maintaining and managing current and future computer systems as clerk.
I will focus on increasing transparency and ensuring the clerk's office serves everybody with efficiency and professionalism. As the only unaffiliated candidate running for the office, I have no ties to a political party. I believe the clerk's office should be non-partisan. The clerk should provide the same service without regard to political party. This is especially important since the clerk is in charge of elections. There have been recent reports around the country of election meddling by officials for the purpose of partisan gain. I believe this is immoral and un-American. Every eligible citizen should be able to trust their interaction with our election and court system is treated fairly and equally. As an independent candidate I believe I am the best choice for this office.
The clerk's efficiency and timelines in filing and retrieving court documents is integral to public access of the court system. Without this the courts cannot make the best use of their limited time. I believe there is always room for increases in efficiency, whether through improvements of processes or by streamlining technologies used. While technology can help increase efficiency, there is also a risk that it can create problems as well. I believe my experience and expertise will help guide the clerk's office to make proper use of technology without compromising efficiency, security and ability to audit all documents under the clerk's purview.
For most people, the easiest and quickest way to access public information is online. In my interactions with the clerks office I have sometimes found it hard to find proper forms or instructions. I have also had issues with email correspondence being slow or not answered at all. I will further the access to public information by improving and simplifying the online document access and filing, making the processes transparent and understandable, answering all correspondence in a timely manner, and expanding systems to automate access to public information where applicable.
Idaho uses a 100% paper ballot system. This is the most important aspect of a secure election since it provides an auditable paper trail if there is ever a question about the outcome of an election. As county clerk I believe working with the Secretary of State to continue to harden election security and providing safe polling places without political interference are the most important two aspects of a safe and secure election.
The Kansas' Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program was implemented to reduce voter fraud by cross checking voter registrations between states to make sure a voter does not cast ballots in multiple states. While the system was well intentioned, it appears that there are issues very high false positives (a voter is flagged when they share a name and birthday with someone in a different state) and data security in the crosscheck database. At its peak 29 states enrolled in the program and to date 8 states have withdrawn. The benefits of a crosscheck system are minor when less than half of the states use the system. Due to the issues with the system and the lack of universal usage across states I would encourage studying whether the program is worth the cost in time and risk to data security.
I believe most voters don't realize that the county clerk is in charge of all elections in the county. This responsibility is fundamental to our democracy. For this reason, I believe it should be required that the clerk be unaffiliated with a political party. The temptation of election meddling whether through the voter registration process, convenience of polling place locations, or other means has proven to disenfranchise blocks of the public in other states. Even if the clerk acts openly and fairly, the public impression of a partisan official controlling elections taints the fairness of our electoral process.
Idaho's new court document system has just this month been available state wide. Documents are still not available to be accessed to the public through the new system as it is unable to redact private information in a public document. Documents are available to attorneys and officials with extended access through the system. I believe the system is an improvement in being able to quickly identify which documents are available even if the documents still need to be retrieved at the court house. I have concerns about a system to automatically redact personal information due to risks involved with the imperfect nature of computerized systems. Since some counties are just now implementing the system even though it has been available for years, it seems as though additional support from the state may have been beneficial in timely implementation.
Age 37
Education Juris Doctorate - University of Denver, Mater's in Public Administration - Boise State University, Bachelor's degree - University of Washington
Prior political experience 2014 - Candidate for Secretary of State
Civic involvement Leadership Boise, 2017 Graduate - Boise Young Professionals, B|wise Mentor - TEDx Boise, Speaker 2017 - City Club of Boise - Boiler Room Chats, President - Knights of Columbus - Idaho State Bar Young Lawyers, Chair (2013 - 2014) - Idaho State Bar Professionalism and Ethics Section - Idaho State Bar Government Section
Years living in Idaho 4th Generation Idahoan, grew up in Boise, and lived in Idaho for a total of 26 years.
Family Wife, Angella, and three wonderful children.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mcgraneforidaho/
Other social media https://www.linkedin.com/in/phil-mcgrane-862420b/
For the past 7 1/2 years, I have served as the Chief Deputy to current County Clerk, Chris Rich. In this role, I have been responsible for managing the other 178 deputy clerks and overseeing the daily operations of all 6 divisions (Elections, Recorder, Auditor, Courts, Indigent Services, and Administration) within the office. This includes oversight of the development of the County’s $281M budget and management of the Clerk’s Office $22.5M budget.

I have earned a law degree from the University of Denver, Masters in Public Administration from Boise State, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. I am a member of the Idaho State Bar. My legal training and experience have enabled me to become recognized as an authority on Idaho election and campaign finance law as well as court administration.

My career in the Clerk’s Office began prior to attending law school as a deputy clerk overseeing the coordination and training of poll workers in Elections. This experience helped me attain a legal clerkship with U.S. Election Assistance Commission in Washington, DC as well as legal internships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office in Colorado.
I believe that government is often at its best when it goes unnoticed - much like an umpire at a ball game. No one wants to the leave the game thinking of the officials. In the Clerk's Office, we strive to be skillfully unmemorable. It's often the sign of our very best work.

Much like the umpires, the Clerk's Office is entrusted with the responsibility of being fair to all those who come before us. From voting to the courts and beyond, we manage many functions where trust is a key component of what we do. I am proud to be a part of a team that has lived up to such trust.

I have often described the Clerk's Office as the wheels and the cogs of county government. The deputy clerks in our office are responsible for many of the functions that keep county government running. But, we don't stop there. Maintaining the status quo is not enough. We take public service to heart. We constantly seek out new ways to provide services in a manner that helps everyone go about living their lives.

By investing in the culture of service and innovation I would like to continue to build upon the legacy of trust that the Ada County Clerk's Office has become known for.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the administrative arm of the Idaho Supreme Court to advance the use of technology in the courts, including the migration from paper to digital records. This transition has unlocked entirely new ways of providing access to the courts.

By transitioning to a digital court we are able to provide access to the court and court records to more people in more places than ever before. In the near future, the public will be able to access publicly available court records online. We also are working to implement self-service kiosks, to complement our court assistance office, to assist people in completing common forms for those self-represented.

One of the best examples of our efforts is the addition of text notifications for court hearings, much like you get from your dentist. As part of the Sheriff’s office grant from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, we proposed this as a means to significantly reduce failure to appear rates that cause people to unnecessarily go to jail. This is just a first step, I would also like to implement online chat and other online services to make access easier for the public.
The Clerk’s Office serves as an important gateway to public information. As the largest custodian of public records in the county, our office handled well over 12,000 public records requests in 2017.

A core value I helped establish in our office is transparency. We recognize the right and need for people to be able to gain access to the records we maintain. As a result, we have built a strong reputation among the media and public for providing records.

While I believe that we do an excellent job of facilitating access to public records, I also believe we can do more. We are in the process of fully developing systems in the courts and in recording where documents can be requested and received through our website.

Technology has generated new means and methods to make public records available to all. As we learn to leverage these tools, I also take our responsibility as custodian to heart. As someone who has been the victim of identity theft, I will work hard to ensure that we maintain the balance between making records publicly available and ensuring the personal and private information we maintain remains secure.
When it comes to cybersecurity, I believe that Ada County is ahead of the curve. During the summer of 2016, when the first reports of election interference came out, I led a proactive effort to test or our cybersecurity resilience. I recognized then the importance of the issue and our need to reassure voters that our systems are safe.

Working with Ada County IT, we contracted with a cybersecurity firm to conduct penetration tests of all of our critical election systems. This testing gained even greater importance as it was when we were rolling out our new mobile early voting trailer. This testing helped confirm that our existing efforts were working and are secure. We use a true physical air gap, never allowing any part of our vote tabulation system to be online. The testing also enabled us to implement needed improvements in some of our other cybersecurity practices. The key for us is being proactive.

Cybersecurity is proving to be a major challenge for all election administrators. Local government often does not have the resources or expertise to address major threats. That’s were taking the low tech option of removing our systems from the internet proves crucial.
When the Idaho Statesman first reported on the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, I was consulted as a source on what we had done in relation to the program and how it works. At that time, I voiced my concerns and was quoted as saying “Given the security risks, probability of unintentionally disenfranchising voters, and rarity of efforts to vote twice, participating in this Crosscheck program does not seem worth the risks involved.” I continue to maintain this view. You can read the full article here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article184229328.html

Beyond efforts like the Crosscheck Program, we do need to ensure that we have systems in place, to deter, prevent, and catch individuals aimed at committing voter fraud. I believe the current tools we have in place meet these efforts. Since 2004 we have been successfully sharing information between all 44 counties in Idaho to ensure greater accuracy in our systems and prevent fraud. A similar effort at the national level would serve us well, but unlike the crosscheck program, it must include all 50 states and have government oversight to protect the public and information that is involved.
The Clerk’s Office is the second largest office in Ada County, second to the Sheriff. It is comprised of 178 deputy clerks divided into 6 divisions performing a wide variety of unrelated functions to keep county government running smoothly. We often sit behind the scenes helping facilitate programs and processes so that others, like judges, commissioners, county officials, voters, and the public can accomplish what they need. It means that our very best work often goes unnoticed, and it should.

This position requires someone with the professional education and administrative skills to manage such a large entity and who can keep up with all that is involved in so many different county programs. I believe that my legal and administrative education combined with my years of experience helping run the Clerk’s Office, as Chief Deputy, has prepared me well to assume this role. I hope you will conclude the same and I ask for your vote in the upcoming election.
When the Idaho Supreme Court began the effort of modernizing our court management system, I was one of those encouraging them to do so. The shift from a paper-based court to a digital one affords us opportunities that were never even imagined before. I believe the efforts being made around the state will lead to greater transparency through public access to records, greater responsiveness and efficiency by the court, and new initiatives in how we help the public find justice.

Like other large projects, aspects of the rollout of gone well, while others have fallen short of expectations. The project has revealed that Idaho’s court system is larger and more complicated than anyone involved gave it credit for. This has resulted in some efforts not being adequately supported. An example of this is the public’s online access to court information. The new system has still not risen to the level of accessibility that was previously available from the Idaho Repository. With the completion of the rollout to the last remaining counties, my understanding and expectation is that renewed efforts will be made to refine and improve the system to best serve the public and judiciary.
Age 29
Education B.S. Criminal Justice
Prior political experience First time political candidate
Civic involvement Foster parent
Years living in Idaho 28
Family Husband, Michael and sons age 9 and 2
Facebook Kelly Yvonne Mitchell for Ada County Clerk
I worked as a deputy clerk in Ada County for five years. During that time, I obtained my Bachelor's in Criminal Justice. I was a part of the Clerk's Office during the system transition and experienced, first hand, the stress that placed on staff and patrons. I understand the needs of staff, the training they require, and the support they desire to perform the functions of their job. I have been in that position and I have seen administration take a backseat approach to leadership.
Accessibility is my number one priority. Communicating effectively with the community regarding where and how they can obtain the information they need or cast their ballot. It is not enough to simply have the information available, the Clerk needs to be proactive in sharing all available information. In this age, we have an abundance of communication methods available at our fingertips. To not utilize all methods to communicate with our community is short-sighted and unnecessary. Furthermore, when patrons arrive at locations staff should be properly equipped with the appropriate training and resources to assist. Above all, each and every person who enters a polling place or Clerk's Office location should be treated with respect and integrity, regardless of background, political affiliation, or economic status. When any of these goals breaks down, it is up to the Clerk to take full accountability and responsibility to make the necessary changes. That is a commitment I can make as your next Clerk.
Everyone must have appropriate access to the courts. This is non-negotiable. The policies and procedures are in place to allow access to the court system. Significant improvement can be made in the overall attitude and desire to serve. As Clerk, I will lead by example. My passion for public service is apparent. By creating an environment in which staff understand their role as public servants and why that matters, we can increase overall accessibility with by demonstrating a willingness to help in all areas of service.
Public information should be easily accessibly online. It it imperative that community members are aware of the type of information that is available and how they can access the information. As the term implies, the information is public and belongs to the people. Access to such information should be easy and attainable. The Clerk does have the responsibility to ensure the safety of personal information while maintaining the integrity of public records.
As Idaho uses only paper ballots, cybersecurity is of very little concern. Instances of voter fraud are few and far between. Increased security measures are more likely to suppress legal voters than to mitigate concerns of election meddling. As Clerk, my goal will be to increase voter turnout by ensuring voters feel safe and welcome at the polls.
Idaho should not participate in Kansas' Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program. As it stands, not all states participate. Without full participation, the goal of ensuring voters do not cast votes in more than one state is impossible to verify. This program allows the purging of voters due the belief that they have cast multiple ballots in a single election. This is far more likely to result in voter disenfranchisement than to reduce voter fraud. I want to be sure to stress this point very heavily. Voter fraud is a rare occurrence. We are far more likely to see legal voters purged than to discover fraud has occurred.
The Clerk is supported by a staff of over 180 people. No one person can run the Clerk's Office and maintain effective and efficient service. Without each team member's unique skills, abilities, and experience the office would suffer. Many voters do not seem to be aware of the significant reach of the Clerk's Office and how many individuals are helped by the office on an annual basis. Anyone who casts a ballot, pays a speeding ticket, or applies for a marriage license in Ada County has worked with the Clerk's Office. It's very important for voters to understand the breadth of power the Clerk's Office holds as a member of Ada County government. It is so important that the Clerk approaches all things with an attitude of service and the desire to improve our community for everyone.
Ada County was the second county in Idaho to go live with the new system. There is no other county in our state that compares to Ada County. The one size fits all approach to system integration was not successful in the beginning. Many deputy clerks were not even aware of what their job would look like before the system went live. Training sessions did not adequately cover the complexities of clerk duties. Once the system transition occurred, we struggled on many occasions to keep up with our responsibilities between periods of blackouts. The transition was difficult in ways that we felt went unnoticed or unappreciated. Basic leadership requires active participation. Two years later, the system is performing much better and staff has had the time and opportunity to learn the functions and operations.