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Saulman asks for recount in commissioners’ District 2 race

Former commissioner and councilman Kenny Saulman filed for a recount Monday afternoon in the Harrison County Commissioner District 2 Republican primary race, according to Circuit Court Clerk Sherry Brown.
Next, Harrison Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis will appoint a three-member recount commission (one technician and one representative from each party). The commission will go through all 2,375 Republican ballots to determine the intent of each vote cast.
‘I fully trust our machines, but one thing they can’t judge is voter intent,’ Brown said. ‘We’ll go through each ballot by hand and hopefully come up with a final result both sides can agree with.’
The cost of the recount will total just under $500. Saulman must pay $10 for each of the 36 precincts and a filling fee, which is $133, said Brown.
Rhonda J. Rhoads, who currently serves on the county council, increased her lead over Saulman by three votes, 819 to 812, after Friday afternoon’s election board meeting at the Harrison County Court House.
Among the provisional ballots reviewed, Rhoads picked up four votes to Saulman’s one. J.R. Eckart, who was seeking re-election of the seat, garnered three votes to see his total reach 571.
A recount in 2006 of 16 Harrison County precincts yielded no significant changes in any race. In a treasurer’s race, one candidate’s votes were the same both by hand and by computer, while an opponent picked up four votes.
Another recount in 2002 between four candidates vying for two seats on the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees yielded a similar four-vote swing to one candidate but didn’t change the final results of the election.
Several provisional ballots, including at least three Republican ballots, had to be discarded due to poll worker error this year.
Seven ballots were found in a plastic storage bin, apparently having failed to been run through the voting machine by the inspector. Several other provisional ballots from the same precinct were handled properly, so Brown was unsure as to why the seven ballots were separated.
Seven provisional ballots from Northwest Morgan’s precinct were received; however, four of them were not counted due to a lack of identification marks.
In another precinct, two clerks failed to mark their initials in a specified area on the provisional ballots as directed.
The South Franklin precinct had six ballots, including one Republican ballot, that were not counted.
A stack of several ballots were found inside an official county envelope, but there were no identifying markings on the outside of the envelope explaining where the ballots came from and whether or not they were valid, or ‘spoiled.’
‘I’m very disappointed and it’s very upsetting to see the mistakes that are being made,’ Brown said. ‘We went over everything in a training session, so there shouldn’t have been any questions as to how to handle spoiled ballots or provisional ballots.
‘We’re going to get everything cleaned up by November,’ she said. ‘I want to be able to count every ballot we get, but you have to be able to identify the ballots and where they came from in some way. And if they are just thrown in a plastic tub or stuffed into an envelope with no markings, then you can’t do that, and it’s unfair to the voters.’