Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fifth District Recount Continues

The recount for the Fifth Congressional District of Virginia (known by its judicial name of Goode v. Perriello) has been continuing today at the Albemarle County Circuit Court in Charlottesville.

The second phase began at approximately 9:10 a.m. when the recount court convened to accept the paperwork from the 22 counties and cities in the district. (In each jurisdiction, recount officials met yesterday to review tally tapes from DRE -- electronic -- voting machines, to re-feed optical and digital scan ballots through their respective machines, and to hand-count certain ballots.)

Ten minutes later, the three judges -- Judge Tim Sanner from Albemarle County, Judge Gary A. Hicks from Henrico County, and Judge Jane Roush from Fairfax County -- recessed to allow five recount teams to review the materials.

Each team was made up of one member from the State Board of Elections, one member from a state-retained accounting firm, and one representative of each of the parties involved in the recount.

Three "floor teams" reviewed the materials first. If any problems -- even something as seemingly unimportant as a missing label on an envelope -- were encountered, the floor team turned over the materials to an "appeals team" for review. (The appeals team included James Alcorn of the SBE and lawyers from the Perriello and Goode campaigns.) Generally, once the appeals team passed on a county or city's report, it was then turned over to the "summary team," which is adding up the numbers, creating a spreadsheet, and readying the results to turn over to the judges' panel.

If, however, the appeals team is unable to resolve an issue, that matter is sent to the judges for review and decision. As of the time I had left the courthouse, nothing had been sent to the judges.

There may be a problem from at least one jurisdiction, however: There is a discrepancy in the Central Absentee Precinct of Halifax County. Because I do not fully understand the issue, I would rather not describe it here. I will say that it might be as simple as a clerical error or it could be something more serious.

Keeping all that in mind, it appears that the paperwork from most of the counties and cities in the Fifth District has been in good order. This is due to the attentiveness and competence of the election officials chosen by the two parties to act as recount officials in their home jurisdictions.

Yesterday in Charlottesville we began the recount at about 9:00 a.m. and finished by 3:35 p.m. It could have lasted much longer -- and, early in the morning, before the teams of recounters got into an efficient rhythm, it looked like we might be working until 6:00 o'clock or later -- but it didn't. Both recount officials and observers were diligent, asked intelligent questions when necessary, and took their roles seriously.

You can see some video reports on the Charlottesville recount at the NBC29 web site.

From what I was able to see by the time I left the courthouse at 2:15 p.m., there will not be a sufficient number of votes shifting to make a difference in the ultimate winner of the race. For myself, however, I am far more interested in the process -- which to many people might be akin to watching paint drying or grass growing, but which I find fascinating -- than in the outcome.

By the way, for those who might have participated in the recount (whether candidates Perriello and Goode, the many attorneys, SBE officials, local election workers, or observers from the campaign), I have created a few mementos of the occasion that can be found at CafePress, here. Now you can proudly proclaim: "I survived the 2008 Fifth Congressional District recount in Virginia!" on a ceramic travel mug, teddy bear, or t-shirt.

I will be discussing the recount tomorrow morning on Joe Thomas' program on radio station WCHV-AM. Joe, who was a recount observer both yesterday and today, invited me to talk about the process during the 8:00 o'clock a.m. hour. WCHV is found at 1260 on the AM dial. (Do they still say it that way?)

Update: As expected, Democrat Tom Perriello was declared the winner over incumbent Republican Virgil Goode. The margin of victory was 727 votes. The total number of votes for Perriello was 158,810 while the number of votes for Goode was 158,083.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

thank you for your comments. when its impossible to get news, the blogosphere works. thanks