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Foster County officials wait on BCI findings

Foster County officials are awaiting a report from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation after a complaint following the June 10 primary election in the county.

The complaint was filed through the office of Foster County State’s Attorney Paul Murphy and alleges the Foster County Canvassing Board had counted ballots that the election board had rejected, and those ballots should not have been counted. Three members of the canvassing board were in contested races in the election.

Foster County Sheriff Michael Tufte said the BCI agent on the case had wrapped up his physical investigation in Carrington last week, but the sheriff’s office has yet to hear anything else on the case.

“I’m just waiting for BCI to get their act together, get the report to me,” Tufte said. “It’s not really closed as of yet; it’s not really closed until all the paperwork is done.”

Jeremy Quam, the BCI agent investigating the case, said he could not comment on the case. BCI operates under the North Dakota Office of Attorney General, and the attorney general’s media contact, Liz Brocker, declined to comment on how BCI investigations are conducted or provide any information on an ongoing investigation.

“I can’t even say that there is an investigation,” Brocker said.

The five-member canvassing board was made up of the county auditor, recorder, commission chairman and a representative from the Democrat and Republican parties.

County Auditor Teresa Risovi said she was told by BCI that the canvassing board didn’t do anything wrong, and she is eagerly awaiting vindication in the final BCI report.

“It’s caused a lot of extra workload, a lot of heartache with the canvassing board members,” Risovi said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to even find people to be on the canvassing board moving forward as well as the election board, and that’s because they’ve received some adverse feedback from a concerned citizens’ group. Mostly it’s just taken a lot of time out of my regular day-to-day duties to work with the BCI investigator and answer questions to the state. It’s just a lot of extra time and taxpayer money.”

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at dluessen@jamestownsun.com

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