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July 13, 2010

Recount for District 4 council seat goes into late-night hours

CLARK COUNTY — A recount in the Clark County Council District 4 race was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Monday, but delays pushed the recount late into the night.

As of The Evening News’ press time on Monday, a commission had not completed the recount of 3,700 ballots from 22 precincts cast in May’s Democratic race.

In the May primary election incumbent David Abbott lost to challenger Brenda Ross by a total of 34 votes.

The commission appointed to conduct the review of the votes included Democratic representative Norma Lockard, Republican representative Jeremy Snelling and Clark County Recorder Dick Jones acting as the county representative.

The group was set to conduct the recount Monday afternoon when questions persisted on how the recount would actually be handled.

“The commission, more-or-less, decides its own procedures,” said Abe Navarro, president of the election board.

The policy of how the commission would review the ballots was questioned by attorneys in the hours leading up to the recount.

A determination was eventually made that if any member of the commission, or the candidates’ respective attorneys, questioned the validity of the ballot it would be set to the side.

The unquestioned ballots would be sent through the voting machines, just as they had been on election day. A previous ruling by specially appointed Judge Nicholas South stated a manual, hand recount would not be permitted.

If the number of questioned ballots was enough to cover the 34 vote difference, then they would be presented to South, who would issue a ruling on the ballots in question.

“Essentially, because they are recounting each ballot or reviewing it for its accuracy there are often different opinions and discrepancies in reference [to] how you challenge it,” said Andrew Adams, election board member.

County Councilman David Abbott said he decided to challenge the results of the primary election against Brenda Ross for several reasons.

He said he was urged to ask for a recount by his constituents, the 34-vote margin of victory was so narrow the results could change and he had heard about issues with the voting machines at precincts six and seven — both located at the Clark County 4-H fairgrounds.

The issue with the voting machines occurred when a tape used to count the number of votes ran out before it was completed on the night of the election. The machine delayed some voting results, but was brought back to the county building and the count was finished.

According to Clark County Clerk Barbara Bratcher-Haas the votes, despite the hiccup, were counted properly and no votes were missed.

“I can’t see that being an issue. The tapes were complete,” she said.

Both of the candidates for District 4 were in agreement that they simply want the recount to be resolved.

“I just want it to be done and over with,” Ross said. “You need to be able to plan for the general election.”

A final decision was not expected to be made Monday, but Adams said there should be an accurate enough count to determine whether or not the challenged ballots could make up the difference in votes between Abbott and Ross.

Even if a recount total decides a clear winner, the votes will still need to be certified by South.

No date has been set for certification or for review of the contested ballots.

For updates on this story, check The Evening News’ website at www.newsand

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