May 2018 Treasure Valley Voters Guide




Welcome to our Voter Guide for the May primaries, 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: The guide will display candidates from multiple parties in one group. At the polls, you will be asked to choose a Republican, Democratic or nonpartisan ballot. Idaho's Republican primary is closed, while the Democratic primary is open to voters affiliated with any party. There are no primaries this year for the Constitution or Libertarian parties. Candidates' responses have not been edited.


Ada County Clerk

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  • Graham Carter
    (I)

  • Candidate picture

    Phil McGrane
    (Rep)

  • 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?

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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 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 $252M budget and management of the Clerk’s Office $20.6M 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.
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