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County clerk confident in final commission ballot count

Staff writer

Any one vote could have swayed the county commission District 1 election.

Lori Lalouette-Crawford had 676 citizens vote for her, one more than Craig Dodd. Had one swayed toward her opponent, there would be a different commissioner-elect.

There were 109 votes for write-in candidate Donna Klose and four write-in votes for non-candidates (Joe Alvarez, Kathy Klose, Steve Noble, and Paul Penner tied for fourth place with one vote each).

There were 69 provisional ballots, 27 of which weren’t counted because voters weren’t registered or were registered in another county. Those provisional votes may or may not have been from potential District 1 voters.

Four provisional ballots indicated Lalouette-Crawford. Two indicated Dodd.

Dodd went from winning by one vote after hand counts to losing by one after provisionals.

“Only in Marion County,” Commissioner Dan Holub said of the near-even split.

County Clerk Tina Spencer expressed confidence that her staff got it right.

“I feel pretty good about it,” she said. “I have handled our scanner enough now to feel very confident in how it reads. And I feel that things are good.”

Not that a one-vote margin is something a county clerk is looking for.

“It would always be nice if it was a little bit larger spread,” she said. “It was very, very close.”

The ballots were put through an automatic scanner and then placed in a can, which remained locked until polls closed and all ballots were cast.

If the scanner could not read a ballot because it was filled out incorrectly or damaged, the scanner stopped and that ballot was set aside for hand-count, Spencer said.

The most common reasons for ballot challenges are voters giving a different address than what is on file, or filing a name change, or forgotting their ID. If challenged, a voter fills out a provisional ballot.

Provisional ballots were sealed individually and placed in a canvassing envelope without anyone seeing them.

“Those are the ones we have to research,” Spencer said.

Of the 69 provisional ballots, 27 failed to meet Secretary of State requirements, Spencer said, in that they were either unregistered voters or registered out of county and had not re-registered in Marion County by the registration deadline.

The provisional ballots were then run through the election scanner and counted.

The hand-count ballots were counted by three separate election boards, whose numbers had to match up.

Election boards also reviewed every single ballot for write-in votes, which cannot be picked up by the ballot scanner.

“Every ballot is looked at by a person,” Spencer said.

Dodd has until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to request a recount. The deadline is typically one day after canvassing, but since the courthouse was closed the day after canvassing for Veterans Day, Dodd is afforded another day.

A recount bond would cost Dodd $200 to be done by machine, or $500 to be done by hand. If the recount yields a different result, Dodd would not have to pay the cost.

Dodd said he would decide Wednesday whether to file for a recount.

Last modified Nov. 13, 2014

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