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Jefferson County finishes election canvass

By Staff | Nov 12, 2010

CHARLES TOWN – The total number of votes from the Nov. 2 midterm election remained relatively the same following an election canvass that took place Monday and Tuesday in the Jefferson County Courthouse.

An election canvass looks at challenged ballots following each election and the Jefferson County Commission, serving as a Board of Canvassers, decides whether or not each challenge ballot will be allowed.

The canvass also randomly selects at least two precincts and hand counts the ballots from those precincts, and if the numbers from either precinct are off by more than 1 percent the precincts from the entire county would have to be hand counted.

While the canvass lasted to a second day, commissioner Dale Manuel said he has been involved in canvasses that have gone a lot longer.

“The process has become somewhat more expedited now than it was in the past,” Manuel said. “This time it took a little longer because we took a second count of one of the hand-counted precincts for additional safeguards. But everything came out to the point where we’re within the margin of error.”

One of the precincts was hand counted a second time because it had a margin of error of about 3 percent after the initial hand count. County Clerk Jennifer Maghan blamed a noisy, distracting environment during Monday’s canvass session for the error.

“I requested that because of all the distractions of the cell phones that today we would come back fresh, without any distractions,” Maghan said. “We did, and we were only three ballots off.”

Commissioner Lyn Widmyer has previously said that she believes canvassing, after voting, is as close to the democratic process as a citizen can get.

“It’s a long process, but this is where democracy hits the road,” Widmyer said. “We are sitting there certifying votes, so it’s very rewarding but very long.”

Jefferson County was one of the final counties in the state to finish its canvass, and once each county finished a time could be set after 48 hours had passed to officially certify the election results. The 48-hour period, which does not include the Veterans Day holiday on Thursday, serves as a time period for anyone interested to request a hand recount for the entire county.

If a recount is requested, the person requesting it must pay a $300 bond to cover the costs of a hand recount for the entire county.

The County Commission, serving as a Board of Canvassers, will officially certify the election results at 2:52 p.m. Friday.