Former Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, spent $500 last week on a recount in his race for the Idaho Senate and picked up a single vote after the process concluded Thursday.
It wasn’t enough to close the gap between him and the man who won the race, Republican Sen. Mitch Toryanski, who claimed victory by 103 votes on election night. Toryanski won the race with 6,455 votes to Durst’s 6,353.
Durst didn’t request a full recount, but rather a count of five precincts within Boise’s District 18 at a cost of $100 per precinct. In those five specific areas, Durst won more votes than his opponent. The Democrat had 2,054 votes cast in his favor on Election Day, though that total was increased to 2,055 after the recount. Toryanski won 1,855 votes in the precincts, and his vote count remained the same through the recount process.
Michael Gilmore, the deputy attorney tasked with overseeing the recount, said the one vote picked up by Durst didn’t merit a larger recount to see if the results in the race might be altered. ”Mr. Durst picked up one additional vote in five precincts, which was insufficient, when projected across all precincts in District 18, to change the outcome of the election,” wrote Gilmore in a letter to the Ada County Elections clerk. “Accordingly, no further recount was conducted and the results of the election stand.”
Durst says he requested the recount to verify results because he saw a vast difference in polling data compared to actual vote totals. ”We were shocked by some of the results we saw in some of the precincts,” said Durst. ”The numbers that we ended up getting were very different from the information we saw.”
In the end, the Democrat seemed underwhelmed by the change in his vote total. ”The results are the results,” he explained. ”To expect something different is pretty naive.” He said that because the ballots are counted through the same methods during recounts as they are on Election Day, asking for a second tabulation of votes is “pretty much useless.”
Durst’s recount took place while the Ada County Elections Office was handling the same process for Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking, who requested it in her House race with Republican Julie Ellsworth. Engelking lost by nine votes on Election Day, and like Durst, picked up one vote through the second counting of votes.