Salmon/Brock recount may begin in two weeks


Monday, November 20
NEWFANE -- The recount for state auditor will likely begin on Dec. 4 or 5, according to Larry Robinson, clerk of the Windham County Superior Court.

When the official results from the Nov. 7 election were released this week, Rockingham Selectboard member Tom Salmon found out that he lost the state auditor's race to incumbent Randy Brock by 137 votes.

Salmon asked for the recount the next day. He only needs to pick up 69 votes to overtake Brock.

Salmon's request set in motion the statewide recount, an exercise that has not been performed in Vermont in more than 25 years. The last one was in the 1980 Senate race between Patrick Leahy and Stewart Ledbetter.

When the recount begins, troopers from the Vermont State Police will visit every single town hall in the state to collect the ballots, which have been locked away in vaults since election night.

The bags from each of the 12 counties will then be delivered to the county clerks in the court houses.

In the coming week, letters will go out to the leaders of the Democratic, Republican, Progressive and Liberty Union parties. Each of the leaders will nominate party members to serve on the recount committee.

The county clerks choose equal numbers of counters from each party. Every ballot, whether it was hand counted or used in an electronic machine, will be hand counted during the recount.

The counters will sit in groups of four, with one person looking at the ballot, while a second verifies the vote. A third person writes down the number and the fourth makes sure the information is written correctly.

At Windham Superior Court, there will likely be five or six teams. A 2002 recount for Windham County Sheriff took two days, Robinson said, and he said this year's recount should take the same amount of time.

"We usually see a few votes swing one way or another," said Robinson. "Usually the grand total doesn't change that much."

Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz the state should be able to complete the recount in about a week.

Counters will be paid $30 a day, the same amount people get to serve on jury duty.

The counts are done in open session.

Last week, the state did an audit of voting machines in four precincts, said Kathy DeWolfe, director of elections for the Vermont Secretary of State's office. The audit was done to verify the accuracy of the voting machines, which Vermont has been using since 1994.

To conduct the audit, ballots from the U.S. House and U.S. Senate races in Barre, Duxbury, Killington and St. Albans were hand counted and checked against the results of the machines. It was the first time the state checked did an audit of the optical scanning machines. These are used in 73 municipalities, according to the Secretary of State's office.

DeWolfe said most of the mistakes came from voters who did not mark the ballot dark enough, and sometimes the counters can disagree when a mark is not clear on the recount.

"The audit was done to demonstrate that the tabulator machine is accurate," she said "There were one or two differences, there were 13 in one count, but we did not find large differences.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at or (802) 254-2311, ext. 279.


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