Monday, April 15, 2024

Kalispell’s re-do election scheduled for May 7

by NICOLE GIRTEN Daily Montanan
| April 2, 2024 8:45 AM

The re-do election for two Kalispell city council seats is scheduled for May 7.

A Flathead County District Court judge last month ordered two Kalispell city council elections be redone after a clerical error resulted in more than 1,400 voters receiving ballots with the incorrect candidates listed.

Earlier this month, incumbent candidates Kari Gabriel and Sam Nunnally, who had won by close margins in the election needing to be re-done, were appointed to serve on the council as interim council members until the do-over election is completed.

Ward One candidates Gabriel and Wes Walker were 80 votes apart, while Ward Two candidates Gabriel Dillon and Nunnally were separated by 109 votes.

Ballots will be mailed to absentee voters on April 22, and poll voters can vote in person on May 7 at the Flathead County Fairgrounds EXPO building.

The county will also be conducting school and special district mail ballot elections on May 7.

One-hundred seventy-six voters submitted ballots with incorrect ward candidates, after updated ward boundary information wasn’t updated into the elections system.

In December, Flathead County Election Administrator Debbie Pierson asked the court to annul the Nov. 7 election saying in a court filing her office discovered days before the election the new ward boundaries approved by the city of Kalispell in Dec. 2021 weren’t entered into their election system.

This error meant 1,413 absentee ballots, representing 8% of Kalispell voters, received incorrect ballots. The December filing said the county will be fronting the cost of another election, but the amount was not available from the county Monday.

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan, a nonprofit newsroom.