Team Of Tabulators Begins Official Count Of Votes

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(Host) While thousands of Vermonters anxiously wait for official word, a small crew in the secretary of state’s office is adding up the totals from this week’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, they hope to get the job done quickly.

(Sneyd) Elections Director Kathy DeWolfe originally expected to have her staff of four add up the totals from the primary.

And she planned to have everything done by the weekend so it would be ready for an official "certification" of the vote meeting on Tuesday.

That was before the five-way Democratic race ended in such a nail-biter.

Now, she’s recruiting additional help.

(DeWolfe) "And we have added two today. … Usually we complete this sometime on Sunday afternoon. We’re hoping that we can complete it by the end of the day Friday or midday Saturday. So we added an additional pair."

(Sneyd) Every town clerk counted the ballots after the polls closed on Tuesday.

The news media then collected all of those totals and added them up to figure out the winners.

That count showed Peter Shumlin with a lead over Doug Racine of less than 200 votes, and a lead over Deb Markowitz of less than 500.

With the result that close, any kind of mistake in the tabulation could turn things around. So the secretary of state’s official count really matters now.

DeWolfe says her process is painstaking in an effort to avoid any mistakes.

(DeWolfe) "We have a double entry system that we’ve set up so that at least two people must enter the same information twice. And then the database does a compare. If it’s a perfect match, then that precinct moves on to kind of the final reporting place."

(Sneyd) If there’s a discrepancy, the computer alerts staff, who have to resolve the differences.

The process takes time because all of the races in the primary have to be counted. And that includes the Democrats, Republicans and Progressives.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

Visit VPR’s Campaign 2010 Primary page

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