Originally created 11/11/05

District 5 recount scheduled



Augusta Commissioner Bobby Hankerson's call for a recount in the District 5 commission race marks just the second recount in Richmond County since electronic voting started in 2002.

Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said the first was part of a statewide recount in a Court of Appeals election in July 2004, which was eventually won by Debra Bernes.

The process, identical to the one that will be used this time, "went off without a hitch," Mrs. Bailey said, which is why she expects no problems this time either.

"It's basically just a repeat of what we do on election night," the director said.

Mr. Hankerson announced Tuesday night that he would ask for a recount, minutes after discovering political newcomer Calvin Holland had upset him by only 12 votes.

By the next day the incumbent had put the request in writing, citing the small margin of victory as his reason.

"It's very close," he said. "And with a race that close, we should do a recount."

Meanwhile, Mr. Holland has celebrated what he perceives as a win but said Thursday that he has "nothing negative to say" about the prospects of a recount.

"I don't have a problem with that - the people have already spoken," he said. "If that's a part of the rules of the game, then that's what we'll do. We've been abiding by the rules since the beginning."

Kara Sinkule, a public information officer for the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, said a recount is allowed if the losing candidate requests one within two days and there is a difference of 1 percent or less between the vote tallies.

Mrs. Bailey said the recount will take place at 10 a.m. Monday in the board's warehouse.

First, though, election officials must certify Tuesday's results by signing, sealing and then sending them to the secretary of state's office, likely today.

When it comes to the recount, poll workers will separate the District 5 memory cards from the others, and then upload the cards through a computer server.

"The reading is pretty much instantaneous," she said. "It takes maybe 30 seconds."

About 200 paper ballots - representing mailed-in absentee ballots - will be scanned in the same way standardized tests are processed in schools.

If the tallies are different than Election Day totals, election officials will recertify the recount results.

Even before touch-screen voting, Mrs. Bailey said, her staff didn't hand-count the ballots; they ran punch cards through a machine that read the counts.

"It's similar, but different in terms of the equipment we're using," Ms. Bailey said.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

What's Next:

The recount will take place at 10 a.m. Monday. The results should be available the same day.