(Host) For the first time in Vermont history, a recount has changed the unofficial outcome of a statewide election.
By 102 votes, Democrat Tom Salmon was certified today as the winner of the election for Auditor.
When the results were final, Auditor Randy Brock said he would not contest the recount.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel has the story.
(Mary Teachout) “Based upon those results the court will issue a judgement .declaring Thomas M. Salmon as elected Auditor of Accounts.”
(Kinzel) With that statement, Washington County Superior Court judge Mary Teachout certified the results of a statewide recount that officially makes Democrat Tom Salmon the next Auditor of the state of Vermont.
Unofficial results the day after the election put Brock ahead by just over 800 votes out of more than 260,000 ballots cast.
The lead narrowed to just 137 votes when the official tabulation was announced a week later.
Now, after a statewide recount of all the ballots, Salmon has emerged with a 102-vote victory.
Salmon picked up votes when it was discovered that election officials in a number of towns that count their paper ballots by hand, mistakenly confused Salmon’s vote totals with those of Liberty Union candidate Jerry Levy.
At the court certification hearing, Judge Teachout reviewed 66 questionable ballots:
(Teachout) “The parties have agreed that this is a vote for Salmon and the court agrees. The second is from the town of Johnson. Parties have agreed that this is a vote for Brock and the court agrees.”
(Kinzel) Following the certification, Salmon said the last 6 weeks have been a crazy time.
(Salmon) “Magic carpet ride – I set out with my car, put 22,000 on my car trying to get around Vermont, to meet Vermonters and show them my commitment to Vermont. And to have lost and to have to process a big statewide loss – this is really a humbling experience because a loss is very humbling.”
(Kinzel) Salmon said he’s very pleased that Brock has agreed to help him prepare to take over the office:
(Salmon) “Randy Brock has pledged cooperation in the transition and at a convenient time for him he and I will get together and talk about the needs of the office in the week ahead.”
(Kinzel) Brock congratulated Salmon on his victory and said he accepts the final results of the recount:
(Brock) “I don’t believe that it would be in Vermont’s best interest to contest the election. I believe the recount process was tight. I think it was very well done and I think the statute is clear. And although certainly there were issues that could be raised as questions, I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate to do so.”
(Kinzel) Brock says his political future is uncertain but earlier this week he told a gathering of local Republican officials that he’s looking ahead to a rematch with Salmon in 2008. Following the recount he made it clear that he is thinking about two years from now.
(Brock) “I’ve not made any decision as far as what to do in the future because obviously that’s a long way off it’s a whole 684 days!”
(Kinzel) While Salmon and Brock received about 44% percent of the vote. Progressive candidate Martha Abbott got roughly 9%. She says lawmakers should adopt changes to the state’s election laws to ensure that the winning candidate receives at least 50% of all votes cast.
(Abbott) “It’s another thing to win by 44% plus 100 votes. And I think if we had a majority threshold for all state offices, we could figure out how to get to that. We don’t have to even figure it out right now in terms of what the system would look like. Bu we’re a system of majority rule and this isn’t really a majority.”
(Kinzel) A review of the final vote shows that almost 14,000 voters left their ballot blank for the Auditor’s election.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.