The Utah County Republican Party today held an official recount for its Party Secretary race at the request of candidate Kristen Chevrier. The ballots cast in the second round of voting in that race were hand-counted this morning, yielded a different count than originally reported at the April 30 Organizing Convention election, but not a different outcome – as originally reported, Jeremy Roberts will serve as the County Party Secretary for the next two years.
The hand-recount of the Scantron ballots was requested by Chevrier on the day after the election was held. The original voting results reported Chevrier losing to Roberts by a narrow 19-vote margin with a vote total of 404 to 385, and a rumored 21 “spoiled” ballots. Today’s recount showed that Roberts actually won by 25 votes, not 19.
“The numbers were different and that is what we wanted to find out,” said Chevrier. “My hope is that we can learn from this that we need to do auto-recounts at certain thresholds and that we need some convention/balloting/recount guidelines written into our bylaws.”
When she requested the recount last week, Chevrier said, “It’s about double-checking the process,” noting that the electronic Scantron vote total was close enough to warrant a hand recount in order to ensure an open and transparent voting process. There were some questions regarding the election process, with some poll watchers (who are tasked with observing the ballot counting process to ensure its credibility) expressed concern about the lack of training offered them at the Convention election, as well as restrictions in the balloting room that impeded their ability to fully observe the counting process.
When Chevrier initially requested the recount, the Party was accommodating. That cooperative spirit quickly diminished, however, as the Convention Elections Committee stalled the process, tried to talk Chevrier out of the recount and made up recount rules on the fly that would have denied Chevrier a poll watcher for the recount (although recounts are allowed in the Convention rules, no rules governing recounts were made or approved by the Convention).
Convention rules only require the Party to keep the ballots for 5 business days, and with this deadline looming and no recount scheduled by the Party, Chevrier appealed her case directly to the County Delegates. Chevrier sent an email asking County Delegates to encourage Party leadership to follow through with a timely and fair recount. Finally, on the evening of May 5, the Party acquiesced and scheduled an official recount for 9:00 a.m. this morning.
Candidate Jared Jardine declined involvement in the recount, and Jeremy Roberts approved of the recount as long as the previously approved Convention Rules were observed.
Update, 5/10/11: Something’s not quite right with the numbers in this election. Initially, the vote count for the Secretary race final round of balloting was quoted to the convention as 404 to 385; however, Chevrier’s poll watcher at the recount reports that the official convention tally sheets brought to the recount by the Elections Committee Chair added up to 409-386. Additionally, the the double- (and sometimes triple-) verified hand count came out to be 414-389. Why the discrepancies?