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3rd District race recount begins next week

Kevin Wiser

The last leg in the race for Nevada County’s District 3 Supervisorial seat begins Monday morning with a manual recount of ballots.

Incumbent Bruce Conklin, who requested the recount, trails challenger Drew Bedwell by a thin 19 votes, according to final election results certified by the Elections Office Dec. 3.

The purpose of a manual recount is to verify the machine count by viewing each ballot, determining the voters’s intent, and manually tallying those votes.

“Nevada County’s computerized ballots scanners count what they see,” said Clerk-recorder Lorraine Jewett-Burdick. “If any votes change during a recount, it typically involves determining voter intent – something that scanners can’t do.”

The recount will be conducted by a four-member recount board under the supervision of Jewett-Burdick.

Conklin and Bedwell representatives will be on hand to observe the public recount and a spokesperson from each camp will be appointed to challenge decisions made by the recount board.

Jewett Burdick said ballots may be challenged if a spokesperson thinks that a voter’s intent can not be ascertained, for example, or for incompleteness or other defects.

To challenge a ballot, the spokesperson briefly states the reason for the challenge before the next ballot is read.

The recount board then determines how to count the challenged ballot.

If the challenger disagrees with the board’s decision, the challenged ballot is sealed in a special envelope until it is resolved by Jewett-Burdick.

Challenges will be resolved at the end of each day, or more often if necessary, by the Clerk-recorder, who may seek advice from County Counsel or legal staff at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Per election law, no results or running tallies will be released to observers or the media during the recount. While observers may keep their own tallies, only final numbers released by the county Clerk-recorder are official.

Final election results certified by the Elections Office Dec. 3 will stand as official unless overturned by the recount. All precincts in District 3 must be recounted and the outcome must change in order for the official results of the election to be re-certified.

Conklin requested the recount last Monday and wrote checks covering staffing costs for three days of manual vote counting, should three days be needed.

Estimated recount costs for the first day are $1,036, and $484 for the second and ensuing days.

The recount will take three or four days if the manual inspection of ballots continues through all 24 precincts in the 3rd District.

Conklin, however, can call the recount off at any time.

If Conklin calls off the recount after one day, a prorated portion of his advanced payment will be refunded.

If the recount reverses the results, Conklin gets all his money back.

After filing the recount request last Monday, Conklin said he was hopeful that the deficit could be made up, while Bedwell said he was confident his 19 vote lead would stand the scrutiny of a recount.

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