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Rhoads formally requests recount

Rhonda Rhoads, current Harrison County councilwoman, formally petitioned Monday for a recount of ballots in her race with Carl (Buck) Mathes for the District 2 Harrison County Commissioner seat.
Mathes, a Democrat, had a lead on election night of 16 votes and, on Friday, after provisional and military ballots, as well as ballots from the South Spencer precinct found not to have been counted election night due to a machine error, were counted, his lead increased to 32 votes, 8,859 to 8,827.
All ballots cast in the General Election, some 18,581 including 893 ballots with undervotes for the District 2 seat, or ballots where votes were not cast for that particular race, will be hand counted. Harrison County Circuit Court Clerk Sherry Brown said those 893 ballots will require special attention to determine if there was intent to vote.
The next step is for Harrison County Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis to appoint a three-person recount board, though Rhoads said Whitis may ask for another judge to make the appointments. Whitis, a Republican, followed the same procedure in the spring recount, Rhoads said.
Mathes said he and his attorney, Gordon Ingle, filed papers yesterday morning (Tuesday) to ensure Whitis is removed from the proceedings, something Mathes said should have happened already.
Mathes said he expected Rhoads to file for a recount of the ballots, but he is eager to have the commissioner’s seat filled.
‘I’ve been waiting all summer for election day, and election day came and gone and we still don’t have a decision,’ Mathes said. ‘I’m still wondering who won.’
Rhoads, a Republican, said out of 17,000 ballots cast, 30 votes is a small number that separates the two candidates.
‘It’s not really a whole lot,’ she said.
Mathes disagrees.
‘Past history shows leads that big have not been overturned,’ he said. ‘I think it’s a poor bet.’
Rhoads said the recount, and the campaign and election themselves, are not and were not about her.
‘I’m really doing it for (the voters), as a thank you,’ she said. ‘Those who voted for me, I want to make sure it counts.’
Rhoads is no stranger to recounts. In the primary election, fellow Republican candidate Kenny Saulman filed for a recount, but Rhoads remained victorious. She praised the process of the spring recount, saying it was done well and without partisanship.
With the upcoming holidays, Rhoads was unsure when the recount will begin. As for what happens after it’s completed, Rhoads said, ‘That’ll be that.’
‘The people of the county, they’re hard-working, honest and want to pay as little taxes as possible, and I was their watchdog,’ she said. ‘If (Mathes) increases his 32-vote lead, I’m hoping he’ll take over and be their watchdog. It’ll be 17,000 votes he’s representing, not just 8,000.’