Constitutional and statutory laws have given one elective county officer five distinct titles: clerk of the district court, auditor, recorder, clerk of the board of county commissioners, and chief elections officer of the county. The Idaho Constitution established the position of clerk of the district court and provides for the election of this position every four years (Article 5, Section 16). A separate section of the state constitution provides that the clerk of the district court shall be ex officio auditor and recorder (Article 18, Section 6). State law provides that the clerk of the district court be ex-officio auditor, recorder and clerk of the board of county commissioners (31-2001 and 34-112). In addition the election laws specify the duties of the county clerk as clerk of the district court in the electoral process (32-112).
If a county selects an optional form of county government, it could change the structure of the office of county clerk. The clerk's office could be changed from an elected to appointed position; the responsibilities could be divided into 2 or 3 offices; or the office could be eliminated entirely. However, if the office is eliminated, the duties may not be combined with or assigned to the office of the sheriff or prosecuting attorney (Title 3 1, Chapters 52-56, Idaho Code). Even though the structure of the office may change, the county must ensure that the duties and responsibilities described in sections 31-5209, 31-5307, 31-5404, 31-5506, 31-5606 and 31-5808, Idaho Code are fulfilled.
The county commissioners in each county establish the salary of clerk, auditor, and recorder (31-3106 and 31-816). The county clerk/auditor/recorder is authorized to appoint "as many deputies as may be necessary for the prompt and faithful discharge of the duties of the office" (31-2003). As clerk of the district court, this officer and his/her deputies are prohibited from having a private legal practice or from having a partner who is a lawyer (31-2014).
The auditor acts as the county budget officer (31-1602). In this role, more fully discussed in Chapter 15, the auditor compiles budget requests and submits a budget to the board of commissioners.
As chief accounting officer of the county, the auditor is responsible for recording the appropriations made to county agencies, the outstanding liabilities against these appropriations, and the expenditures made against the appropriations. These records show the unencumbered and unexpended balance in each appropriation and are used by the auditor to make sure that county agencies have not overspent their budgets. The auditor also keeps accounting records on the revenues, expenditures, and balances in each county fund.
The auditor also plays an important role in the expenditure process. As bills and other evidence of debt are received by county agencies, they are vouchered and these vouchered claims are transmitted to the county auditor. The auditor reviews the voucher claims for legality and sufficiency of funds. The auditor then transmits them to the board of county commissioners with his/her comments (31-1501 and 31-3301). If the voucher claims are allowed and approved by the board of county commissioners, the auditor prepares warrants (similar to checks) in payment (31-2301). After preparing the warrants, the county auditor posts the warrant amount on his or her expenditure records and transmits the warrant to the employee, vendor, or other person entitled to the warrant. All warrants must distinctly specify the liability for which they are drawn (31-2302), and must be consecutively numbered and show the fiscal year to which they are charged (31-2305).
The county auditor works closely with the county treasurer in many phases of the accounting activities. The auditor must keep accounts current with the treasurer (31-2304). All moneys received by the various county offices must be delivered to the county auditor. The county auditor lists the source and amount of such receipts, apportions them to the proper fund and account on an "auditor's certificate" and delivers the money and certificate to the county treasurer who is then authorized to deposit them in the bank. The auditor must also examine and settle the accounts of all persons indebted to the county or holding moneys payable to the county treasury (31-2303). The county auditor must on the second Monday of each month, transmit to the clerk of every taxing district the amount of all moneys paid into the treasury and apportioned to such taxing district on or after the second Monday of the preceding month. In the months of July and January, however, the moneys may be transmitted no later than the 25th of the month (63-1202).
The auditor and treasurer are responsible for submitting a joint financial statement to the board of county commissioners on the second Monday in January, April, July, and October (31-2306). These quarterly financial statements are required by law to show, in total and by fund, the following items: (1) the amount of revenues paid into the county treasury; (2) the amount of warrants drawn and paid; (3) the amount of warrants drawn and unpaid; and (4) the amount of accounts or claims that are audited or allowed but not yet paid. A summary of this financial statement is published by the auditor and treasurer in a newspaper within the county (31-2306).
A full financial report must be prepared annually and be available for public inspection which shows for each fund the sources of income, expenditures during the year, current fund balances, and other financial information as determined by the board (31-819). When requested, the auditor shall submit to the state controller an annual financial report (67-1081).
The county auditor prepares an abstract of real and personal property entered on the county assessment rolls and transmits this to the state tax commission (63-509(l); 63-510). The auditor extends and computes taxes due on the assessment rolls and calculates the percent of market value equivalent of tax levies (63-811). The auditor performs other tax administration functions as discussed in Chapter 14 of this handbook.
Prior to the fourth Monday of March, the auditor must notify every taxing district or authority as well as the state board of education of the total taxable valuation of all the taxable property located within the districts. Prior to the first Monday in August, the auditor must notify the state tax commission and the clerk of each taxing unit in the county of the taxable valuation of all the taxable property located within that taxing district. The auditor must also furnish the valuation from the current operating property roll upon receipt from the state tax commission (63-1312).
For services as county auditor, the fees fixed by the statute requiring the service shall be charged and collected, or the same fee as allowed the county recorder as provided by Section 31-3205, shall be charged and collected (31-3207).
The county auditor is designated by law as ex officio clerk of the board of county commissioners (31-707). As clerk of the commissioners, the duties of this position include the following 1-708):
Clerks (or their deputies) prepare the agenda for meetings of the county commissioners and attend the meeting to provide information and advice. After the meeting, they prepare the formal record of the proceedings and are required to publish monthly statements clearly giving notice to the public of all the board's acts and proceedings, including a brief financial summary indicating the total amount expended from each county fund during the month (31-819). They may also write letters and make telephone contacts in accordance with the instructions of the board. Tax law requires the clerk of the board of commissioners to keep a record of all proceeding of the board relating to the levy of taxes and to prepare four (4) certified copies of the record of tax levies authorized by the board of county commissioners (63-808). One copy is delivered to the assessor, one to the tax collector, one to the state tax commission and one copy must be filed in the office of the county auditor.
The clerk or their designee is required to take applications for any indigent person desiring aid from the county (31-3404; 31-3504), and to immediately investigate or cause to be investigated the grounds of such application (31-3405; 31-5505A). More information is found in Chapter 11.
The recorder is responsible for recording, filing, and indexing a large number of documents. The recorder procures these documents as the business of his/her office requires. The recorder has custody of, and must keep all books, records, maps, and papers deposited in his/her office (31-2401). These documents are essential for many types of legal transactions and are frequently referred to by attorneys, title companies, real estate brokers, and others in the county. The recorder collects fees for recording and providing copies of legal documents that go into the county treasury (31-3205).
In any land transfer, it is the duty of the buyer to have the deed recorded in the county in which the land is located (56-808). This serves notice to the public that this transfer has been made. The complete mailing address of the grantee is required on any instrument (55-601 and 55-818).
People purchasing property normally conduct a search of the title before accepting a deed to the property. This is done through an attorney or an abstract or title guarantee company Who use the county records to determine the status of the title. Their search is facilitated by two alphabetical indexes of deeds and miscellaneous land transfers that are kept by the county recorder. One index is entitled "grantors" and lists the information concerning the deed under the names of those selling, granting, giving, or transferring property. A second index is entitled "grantees" and lists the same information but it lists it alphabetically by the name of the person receiving the property (31-2404). Thus a person conducting a title search can find the location of a deed by knowing either the name of the grantor or the name of the grantee. All of these records are for the use of the public.
The recorder collects a fee for the recording of land transactions (31-3205 and 55-807), placing an exact copy of the deed in the deed book and recording the information concerning the deed in the grantor and grantee indexes(31-2402). The deeds may be copied by hand, typewriter, photographic reproduction process, or digitized image (31-2402; 9-331A). Most Idaho counties microfilm or electronically store deeds and other legal documents (31-2402A),
The county recorder's office is the only office in Idaho authorized to issue a marriage license. The recorder may issue marriage licenses to any persons applying for them, regardless of their home addresses, if the persons are entitled to marry under Idaho law (32-401). Idaho law requires that both male and female must be 18 or more years of age to be married. Persons under this age limit may marry under certain conditions, such as the consent of a father, mother, or guardian (32-202). A court order is required if either party is under the age of sixteen (16) (32-202). The recorder must provide both the male and the female applying for a marriage license with a "Premarital Aids Education Pamphlet" and they must certify to the recorder that they have read the pamphlet or had it read to them (32-412A). Also, the couple applying for a license must not be close relatives, as defined by Sections 32-205 and 32-206, and neither party may be married at the time a license is issued (32-207).
If the county recorder has personal knowledge that the couple applying meets state requirements, she/he may issue a license (32-403). If she/he is not sure, as is usually the case, she/he takes written affidavits that these conditions have been met (32-403).
The recorder receives a fee for issuing a marriage license as set forth in Sections 31-3205 and 32-408. Two copies of the license and marriage certificate are issued. One copy of the license and certificate is to be signed by the minister or official solemnizing the marriage, and it must be returned to the county recorder within 30 days (32-402). A fee shall be paid for each marriage certificate that is first recorded with said recorder, and then forwarded to the state registrar. A Domestic Violence Project Account has been created and shall receive such fees and for such purposes as specified by Sections 39-5210 and 39-5212. The recorder is required to keep a record of all marriage certificates returned in a book kept for that purpose (32-407), and also two alphabetical indexes, one under the names of the men who were married and the other under the maiden names of the women (31-2404). They shall receive a fee for indexing certificates as set forth in Section 31-3205.
In addition to deeds and marriage licenses, the county recorder is responsible for recording and indexing the following legal documents upon payment of the necessary fee (31-3205):
As of July 1, 1990, fixture filings must be recorded in the real property records and not filed. Fixture filings dated prior to 7-1-90 will remain in full force and effect until they lapse. Any amendments or continuation statements required for filings prior to 7-1-90 must be recorded from a certified copy of the original filing. The fees for recording security interests are the same as for any other recording.
The county recorder is responsible for recording, but not indexing numerous other documents, such as the tax numbers used to identify land parcels from the metes and bounds descriptions kept in the assessor's office (63-210(l)). Other duties include:
All documents brought for recording must be stamped with an instrument number (31-2412) and the day, hour, and minute the document was received in the office (31-2414). The instrument number and day, hour, and minute received must also be recorded in a reception book immediately after numbering (31-2413). This book also lists the name of the grantor (the person executing the instrument), the name of the grantee (the person to whom the instrument is granted), the character of the instrument, the book and page where the instrument is recorded, a brief description of the property (if property is involved), and the name of the person to whom the instrument is delivered (31-2413). If property involved in a foreclosure lies in more than one county, it shall be treated as if it were all in the county in which action commenced and in which decree is rendered and entered (6-105). After the recording is finished, the original document is returned to its owner.
Section 45-1701, Idaho Code, defines a "Nonconsensual Common Law Lien" and provides that such a lien is specifically not recordable or valid. These liens are:
The statutes provide for the recording of a notice of invalid lien by legal counsel representing state or local officials or employees who are liened by an improper common law lien that is recorded. There is also a court procedure for the release of the lien and provisions for civil penalties against the lien claimant (5-1702(3)).
Other documents are recorded in the recorder's office in their original form. These include bulk sales affidavits, bonds of county officeholders, United States federal income tax liens (45-202), Idaho state income tax liens (63-3053 and 63-3054), and the designation of county officer's senior deputies.
The recorder must make all records on file in his/her office available without charge for any person wishing to inspect them(31-2419). The recorder must keep in his/her office a book called "Certificates of Sale," and record in this book all certificates of sale of real estate sold under execution or under order made in any Judicial proceeding (31-2406). All books, records, maps, charts, surveys, and other papers on file or record in the recorder's office must, during office hours, be open for inspection of any person who may desire to inspect them. They may be inspected without charge (31-2419). Recorders may be penalized for failure to record a legal instrument properly (31-2415) or for neglecting their duties (31-2417).
Legal descriptions of new and altered taxing districts and maps of the districts and of altered portions of existing districts must be filed with the county assessor, the county recorder, and the state tax commission within ten days after the change is made (63-215).
The clerk of the district court performs duties prescribed in the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure (a volume of the Idaho Code) and in the rules and practices of the court (1-1001). Title clerk or a deputy must attend in person every term of the district court in the county (1-1002). In medium and larger counties in Idaho, the clerk of the district court usually designates a deputy to handle the duties and responsibilities of the district court. The deputy makes entries, collects fees, and acts as the clerical arm of the court.
The clerk of the district court is required to collect payments for child support ordered by any Decree of Divorce or Order of Separate Maintenance and transmit the same to the person(s) entitled thereto.
The clerk of the district court also acts as ex officio auditor and recorder and ex officio clerk of the board of county commissioners (31-2001). Clerks of the district court are liable on their official bond for injury resulting from any wrongful act or omission by themselves or their deputies (1-1003). The court clerk also collects and remits court fees (1-2003), (31-3210), including Idaho Code, fund fees (73-213).
The Uniform Jury Selection and Service Act (2-201 through 2-221) prescribes the role the clerk of the district court in the jury selection process. The clerk, or a duly appointed deputy, is the member of the jury selection commission which selects prospective jurors (2-205). The jury commission has only one other member, a jury commissioner appointed by the administrative judge. The jury commission must prepare a master list consisting of all voter registration lists for the county supplemented with names from other lists of persons living within the county (2-206). These other lists are designated by the supreme court, and might include lists of utility customers, property taxpayers, motor vehicle registrations, and drivers' licenses. Names or numbers of prospective jurors taken from this master list are placed into a master jury wheel (2-207). If the master list contains more than 1,000 names, the number placed in the master jury wheel must be 1,000 plus one percent of the total number of names on the master list. In this case, the names to be placed in the master jury wheel are to be selected at random according to a method prescribed by law. The master jury wheel is to be emptied and refilled in December of each odd-numbered year (2-207).
Under the instruction of the administrative judge, the jury commission from time to time draws names of prospective jurors from the master jury wheel (2-208). The Clerk must mail to each person whose name is chosen a juror qualification form which must be filled out and returned to the clerk within ten days. This qualification form, which must be approved by the administrative judge, must request the following information:
These forms must be completed by the prospective jurors, and methods are provided to enforce compliance (2-208).
The names of prospective jurors who are not disqualified under the terms of the Uniform Jury Selection and Service Act are placed by the jury commission into a qualified jury wheel (2-210). The jury commission may be directed to draw and assign jurors by the court or any state or county official having the authority to conduct a trial or hearing with a jury within the county. The clerk then causes each person whose name is so chosen to be served with a summons requiring him to report for jury service at a specified time and place (2-210).
Other duties of the clerk of the district court are:
State law establishes the county clerk or clerk of the district court as the chief elections officer of the county (34-305). In carrying out the duties of chief election officer, the county clerk is guided and supervised by the secretary of state (34-202 through 34-206). The county clerk instructs and supervises local election officials, and has the authority and the means to enforce compliance by local election officials with these instructions (34-206; 34-208). The county clerk appoints election clerks and election judges, who are selected from lists of persons recommended by the precinct committee (34-303).
Registration of electors is one of the county clerk's most important duties. In order to register, an elector must provide certain information (34-411) which is recorded on a registration card signed by the elector and retained and filed by the county clerk (34-416). People who appear in the office of the clerk/auditor/recorder, or before a registrar, must be registered without charge, and persons who are ill or physically incapacitated may request that the county clerk or a registrar come to their home for registration (34-407). The county clerk must grant a hearing on the qualifications of any person refused registration if the person so requests (34-412). Each week the county clerk examines registration cards of newly registered electors in order to determine if they were previously registered in another county or state. If they were, the other county or state must be notified of their new registration (34-418).
Any elector may also register by mail for any election. The provisions for mail registration are specified in section 34-410. Mail registrations must be postmarked no later than 25 days prior to an election to be timely (34-410) and no elector may register in the office of the county clerk within 24 days preceding any election for the purpose of voting at that election (34-408). An individual who is eligible to vote and who has not previously registered may register on election day by appearing in person at the polling place for the precinct in which the individual maintains residence, by completing a registration card, taking an oath in the form prescribed by the secretary of state and providing proof of residence (34-408A).
The county clerk must correct the register of electors with respect to deaths of electors (34-433), electors not voting for four years (4) (34-435), challenged electors (34-432), precinct boundary changes (34-417), registration of people who are not United States citizens (34-419), and changes of name or changes of residence within the county when notified of the change by the elector. For a fee, a list of registered electors can be supplied to any individual requesting such a list no later than thirty days before an election (34-437). The county clerk may be required upon request to submit a current list of registered electors to the secretary of state (34-437A).
The county clerk has extensive responsibilities in preparation for elections. He/she must publish notices of elections (34-602), prepare and print ballots (34-210; 34-7l3; 34-902), prepare and distribute stickers to correct vacancies occurring on the ballots after printing (34-912), provide an official election stamp (34-901), prepare and display instructions for the guidance of voters (34-911), prepare and provide sufficient election supplies and ballots to the election boards (34-209 and 34-910), and deliver the combination election record and poll book to the chief election judge in each precinct (34-111). The county clerk is also responsible for providing each polling place with a sufficient number of handbooks prepared by the secretary of state which specify voter qualifications (34-1112).
The county clerk receives and files declarations of candidacy from all candidates for county offices and for offices of precinct committeemen or committeewomen (34-617 through 34-624A, 34-705). If these declarations pertain to a primary election, the county clerk certifies to the county central committee of each political party a list of the candidates who have filed and are qualified (34-706). The county clerk receives applications for absentee ballots, issues them, and receives them (34-1002; 34-1003; 34-1005; 34-1011). He/she delivers the returned absentee ballots to the election judges (34-1007).
Initiative and referendum petitions are checked by the county clerk against the register of electors, and he/she certifies the genuine signatures to the secretary of state for statewide initiatives(34-1807). County initiatives are handled pursuant to Section 31-717, Idaho Code.
Following an election, the county clerk receives the combination election record and poll book and all election supplies from the election judges (34-1204), serves as the secretary of the county board of canvassers (34-1205), and makes abstracts of the election returns and forwards them to the secretary of state (34-1207; 34-1217; 34-1813).
After a primary election, the county clerk issues certificates of nominations, and certificates of election to successful candidates for the position of precinct committee person. To be elected, a precinct committee person must receive a minimum of five votes. If no candidate received the minimum, a vacancy exists and is filled as provided by law (34-1208). The county clerk also certifies the election results to the secretary of state (34-1208). After a general election, certificates of election are issued to successful candidates for county offices (34-1209). Tie votes in county elections are decided before the county clerk by a toss of a coin (34-1210).
Where voting machines or vote tally systems are used, the county clerk must have the machines or tally systems properly prepared, and must see that the election board is properly instructed in their use (34-2413). Each political party is allowed to have a representative observe the testing, and preparation of the machines or tally systems, and the party and its representative must certify to the county clerk that they witnessed the preparation (34-2417). The County clerk provides forms and supplies for use by election boards (34-2414), makes provisions for absentee voting (34-2423), publishes facsimile ballots and provides sample ballots (34-2425), publicly displays voting machines and familiarizes the voters with the machines or with the tally system if it is used (34-2426).
The current recall election law was enacted in 1972, and assigns important responsibilities to the county clerk in recall petitions and elections directed at county and state officials. Recalls of city officials are handled by city officials. In cases of recalls of state officials (both elected executive officers and members of the legislature), petitions must be filed with the secretary of state, who send them to the county clerks for examination and certification of signatures (34-1702 and 34-1706). If the petitions are sufficient, the secretary of state orders a special recall election, which is conducted by the county clerks in a manner similar to general elections (34-1710).
When county officials are named in a recall petitions, the county clerk has larger responsibilities. Under the Idaho Code, all county officials are subject to recall. Before or when they begin to circulate the petition, petitioners must file a petition in the proper form with twenty eligible signatures with the clerk. The county clerk must approve the form of the petition, which Is specified in the Idaho Code (34-1703), and must note in writing that lie/she approved it and the date of approval. The petitioners then have sixty days in which to complete the petition with the required number of signatures (34-1704). To be sufficient, a recall petition must have signatures equal to twenty percent of the number of electors registered to vote in the last general election for county officers at which the officer was elected (34-1702). A signer may have his/her name removed from the petition before or after it is filed with clerk (34-1713).
A recall petition cannot be circulated until the officer involved has held office for ninety days, and no officer can be subjected to recall twice during a term in office unless petitioners for the second recall reimburse the county for the costs of the first recall election. The specific reason for the second recall must not be the same as for the first recall petition (34-1713). The petitioners must submit the completed petition to the county clerk, who gives it a cursory examination to determine whether it "apparently contains" enough signatures. If not, the petition is returned to the petitioners who may seek additional signatures. If it appears sufficient, the petition is filed with the county clerk, who examines and certifies the signatures within ten days (34-1706). If this examination shows the petition does not have enough signatures, the county clerk must notify the petitioners, who then have thirty days in which to obtain the required number of signatures. If the examination shows a sufficient number of certified signatures, the county clerk must notify the officer being recalled and the petitioners by certified mail (34-2707). The officer being recalled may resign within five days, and the resulting vacancy is filled like any vacancy in the office involved. If the official does not resign within five days, the county clerk must order a special election to be held on one of the four dates listed in section 34-106.
The special recall election is to be conducted like a general election, and as of January 1, 1994 is held on the nearest of the four consolidated dates that falls 45 days after the county clerk orders the election held. In order for the officer to be recalled, a majority of the votes cast must be in favor of recall and the number of votes cast in favor of the recall must equal or exceed the votes cast in the last general election for that officer (34-1712). At noon on the third day after tile election, the county commissioners must meet as the board of canvassers and canvass the votes cast. The results are immediately proclaimed by the county clerk (34-1711). If the election results favor recall, the officer is recalled as of the time when the results are proclaimed (34-170 and 34-1712).
The county clerk of each county must provide, and the secretary of state must maintain a current and accurate report of the following:
As of January 1, 1994 there shall be no more than four (4) elections conducted in a county in any year (34-106). The dates of these elections are:
Polls are open from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.; however, the county clerk may open the polls at 7:00 A.M. (34-1101).