Salmon asks for recount in Auditor race

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(Host) Election 2006 is not yet over.

Democrat Thomas Salmon has asked for a recount in the auditor’s race, after the official vote tally showed he lost by just 137votes.

It will be the first statewide recount since 1962.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Last week, Tom Salmon conceded the close auditor’s race to incumbent Republican Randy Brock.

But after the returns were officially tabulated by the Secretary State’s office, Brock’s lead had shrunk from 834 votes to 137. Salmon said that with the results so close, he decided to ask for a recount.

(Salmon) “The fact is that it’s less than one-tenth of one percent and that there’s Vermonters who called me – many, many supporters – who called me and said democracy needs a recount in this case.”

(Dillon) Under Vermont law, candidates can seek a recount at state expense if they lose by under 5%. Salmon says he tried to get Randy Brock to join him in the recount request, but the auditor declined.

Brock says it was not his decision to make.

(Brock) “Under Vermont statutes, only the losing candidate can request a recount. Clearly, recounts are very, very costly. They are disruptive and time-consuming. And at least based on history, they are unlikely to change the result. But certainly he has the right to ask for a recount and I understand that’s what he’s doing.”

(Dillon) The petition for the recount has to be filed with Washington County Superior Court in Montpelier. The court clerk will set the date for the recount. State police will then collect the ballots and the count itself will be conducted in county clerk’s offices around the state.

Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz says vote-counters will follow an exacting procedure to re-tabulate the results.

(Markowitz) “There will be teams of people representing both candidates – actually any of the candidates on the ballots – who will in pairs be looking at piles of 50 ballots and the ballots get counted actually twice. So there are counters, and there are actually observers for each team. So it’s a time-consuming process. It’s very precise. And it’s designed that way for a purpose.”

(Dillon) The last statewide recount was in the 1962 governor’s race, when Democrat Phil Hoff squeaked by Republican F-Ray Keyser by about 330 votes.

The gubernatorial contest in 1958 also led to a recount when Republican Robert Stafford beat Democrat Bernard Leddy.

In both cases, the vote totals changed, but not enough to alter the initial outcome.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

Correction: We have this correction on the history of recounts in Vermont. This week in our story on the close election for auditor of accounts, we reported that the last statewide recount was in 1962. That was according to information provided by the Secretary of State’s office. In fact, the last recount in a statewide election was in the U.S. Senate race in 1980.

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