Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Pullman City Council candidate Sorensen may seek recount; Incumbent trails challenger by 10 votes after latest count"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pullman City Councilman Al Sorensen plans to request a manual recount if the final Ward 2 election results remain as close as they were last week.

Challenger Nathan Weller is 10 votes ahead of Sorensen according to the count Wednesday. Weller has received 273 votes to Sorensen's 263. Prior to Wednesday's count, Weller led by seven votes.

Ballots won't be certified until Nov. 27, and Sorensen said he'll ask for a recount if the final tally doesn't end in his favor.

"The numbers are so close that I feel that I need to do it - just to make sure," he said. "I just want to make sure that the machines did their job. I think I need to do this just so later down the line I don't look back and say, 'I wish I had done that.' "

Weller was unfazed by news of Sorensen's intent to request a recount.

"It's within his rights to do it. By all means, if he feels strongly enough, it's something he can do if he wants," he said.

Whitman County Elections Supervisor Debbie Hooper said there will be a mandatory machine recount if the final results are within one half of 1 percent of each other - a difference of about three votes in this case. A mandatory manual recount will be conduced if the results are within one quarter of one percent.

Hooper said any candidate or member of the voting public can request a recount at their own expense - $.25 per ballot.

The manual recount process is time-consuming, Hooper said. First, elections staff must sort through about 10,000 Whitman County ballots and pull out the 526 sent in from voters in Pullman's Ward 2. Two pairs of staff members will separate the ballots by precinct and look over them individually. Each ballot will be counted twice to ensure accuracy.

"Hopefully they match. If they don't match, they'll be recounted," Hooper said.

In order to start the process, Sorensen must ask for a recount in a formal letter submitted to the auditor's office within three days of the election certification, Hooper said. Certified letters announcing the date of the recount will be sent to Sorensen, Weller and leaders of the local political parties.

Two people representing Sorensen and Weller may be present for the recount.

Sorensen said things could turn around between now and Nov. 27, as there are about 80 ballots from across the county still to be counted.

"It's not over until it's over. Shoot, you never know what could happen with the 80 or so votes that they have over there. I'm pretty sure there's at least one vote over there for me," he said. "But my fellow supporters are encouraging me to order a recount. It'll let everyone know it's accurate. I just want to verify everything."

Weller said if the roles were reversed, he's not sure that he'd request a recount.

"At this point, I can't say. I'm not even thinking about a recount," he said. "Personally, I'm just waiting for the official results ... If Al wins - before the recount or after the recount - I would support him 100 percent."

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