Voters voice displeasure with polling location, County Commissioner expects it to remain

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Voters in Kootenai County are voicing their displeasure in having Candlelight Fellowship Christian being a polling location ahead of the general election.

“We were approached by a number of people who came to us,” said Bill Brooks, Kootenai County Commissioner. “They basically said they felt uncomfortable or unsafe voting at Candlelight.”

Voters cited the church’s right-leaning stance on politics. The church, in one instance, publicly prayed for and endorsed Idaho’s Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin during one of their services.

“Time to time, during political campaigns, [they] talk about, endorsed, and prayed for political candidates in the sanctuary,” said Brooks.

It’s just one of many political activities that prompted voters to voice their opinion on their displeasure with Candlelight hosting a polling location. With so many voices coming through to the Commissioners’ office, they tentatively agreed to change this polling location ahead of the election. This decision pending more information, along with legal guidance from the County.

But tentative is the key word for Commissioner Brooks, who feels like there’s not enough evidence to justify reassigning this polling location.

“At this point, I will not vote to change it from what it is now,” said Brooks, when another meeting is called for on the matter.

Brooks was asked about whether he felt a polling location should be neutral territory for voters.

“They should be neutral in so far as reasonably practicable. No one should feel threatened,” he said.

So far, he says, no one has. He says discomfort should not dictate polling locations. The central question he’s asking: Is the right to vote being infringed upon.

In the case of Candlelight, he feels it has not.

“I didn’t hear anything that would convince me that they did anything to interfere with anyone’s right to vote, and that’s very important,” Brooks said.

He continued.

“My question is, have they ever, or did they ever, in any way shape or form, make anyone come into that polling place afraid enough that they wouldn’t vote, or kept them away?” he asked. “Do we have any polling info that shows the number of ballots cast there is significantly lower than the other place? And the answer is we do not.”

Brooks says he expects this conversation to come up during a meeting on Tuesday, October 4.