Partial recount shows Salmon closing gap on Brock

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(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says the partial results of a recount in the Auditor’s election shows that Democrat Tom Salmon has closed the gap in his race against Incumbent Republican Randy Brock.

Markowitz says she surprised by the trend that’s primarily responsible for shifting votes in this statewide recount.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The statewide recount in the Auditor’s race started on Monday December 4th. It’s a slow process where election workers sift through more than a quarter of a million ballots 50 votes at a time.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says the recount is now complete in 11 of the state’s 14 counties. The outstanding counties are Chittenden, Rutland and Windsor. These areas represent about 50 % of all votes cast. The Rutland and Windsor totals are expected in the very near future.

On election night, Brock received 137 more votes than Salmon. But the partial results of the recount show that Salmon has gained 302 votes and Brock has picked up 37. That gives Salmon a net gain of 265 and a temporary lead of about 128 votes.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz expected that most of the changes would come in towns that use optical scan machines but that’s not what happened. The biggest changes have come in towns that hand count paper ballots. She says some votes cast for Salmon were mistakenly tallied for Liberty Union candidate Jerry Levy:

(Markowitz) “What it looks like is that particularly in the larger towns that are still hand counting, which means that they’re going on pretty late into the night, the count was accurate where there’s two people one is calling and the other is marking that that marking is accurate. But when those marks are transferred to the central tally sheet, some of the marks for Salmon were being placed mistakenly on the Levy column. And so what we’re seeing is that there are chunks of votes that were counted as Levy votes really being Salmon votes.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz questions if Brock will be able to regain the lead because most of the towns that haven’t been counted use the optical scan machines and the partial results of the recount demonstrate that these machines have been very accurate.

If the final tally results in a victory for Salmon, Markowitz says Brock has very few options to challenge the recount:

(Markowitz) “It’s not an opportunity for someone who’s simply unhappy with the results to say I want another bite of the apple. They really have to be able to point to something that was improper that was discovered in the course of the recount.”

(Kinzel) Markowitz says she hopes the recount will be complete by the middle of next week.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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