SPRINGFIELD — Residents will have to wait a little longer to find out whether the Democrats actually won the election this year by a five-vote margin or if there could have been an error by the board of elections.
On Friday, the Republican party decided to file for a recount in Superior Court, hoping this brings closure so the governing body can have a smooth transition in 2013.
The official recount, according to the Administrator for Union County Board of Elections Administrator Dennis Kobitz, will take place Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. as ordered by Superior Court Judge Lisa Chrystal.
Kobitz expects the recount will take about two hours because both mail-in and provisional ballots will be done by hand. Again.
Although the official word came down Nov. 26 that Committeeman Jerry Fernandez lost the election by a very narrow margin to Democrat Margaret Bandrowski, the Republican party decided when an election is that close, a recount was not out of order.
Springfield Republican Committee Chairman Harold Poltrock commented on the move in a statement made by the party Dec. 7.
“We owe it to the voters to ensure the accuracy of the results,” he said, adding that more than 7,000 voters cast ballots this year because it was a presidential election.
Interestingly, he pointed out that although there was a 700 vote difference at the top of the ticket for the presidential race, just five votes ended up affecting the outcome of the local race for township committee.
Fernandez, who has served one three-year term, and Marc Krauss issued a joint statement about the decision to go for a recount.
“When such a small number of votes will decide who takes office for the next three years, this recount is important to verify the results so residents have confidence in the outcome of this most unusual election,” the Republican party members said.
Both also added that while the decision to go forward with a recount was not taken lightly, but party members are hopeful the results gives everyone closure so there is a smooth transition for the incoming governing body.
The Union County Board of Elections certified the results of the Nov. 6 election on Nov. 26, officially announcing that Bandrowski and David Barnett were the winners.
It was not expected that Fernandez would challenge the certification by county clerk Joanne Rajoppi, who was certain the certification would be the end of the issue.
“There is no margin of error. It’s not like we have ten thousand votes here. Someone has to petition the court for a recount after I certify it,” Rajoppi told LocalSource two weeks ago, adding there is no automatic recount in an election this close.
Kobitz explained Tuesday that he did not expect the recount to change the results certified on Nov. 26 because of the circumstances surrounding the election this year in Springfield.
“Normally the provisional ballots are done by machine but because this was a new machine, we counted the provisional by hand,” he said.
Kobitz also said that because voters sometimes do not fill in the circle of the candidate of choice, as instructed, there can be mistakes.
“Often voters will put a check mark, or circle a candidates name and that can’t be picked up by the counting machine. Under normal circumstances a recount would pick up these mistakes, but because we did the original count of these ballots by hand, it is unlikely there will be any change in the five-vote margin,” Kobitz added.
After the recount is certified, Kobitz said there are options if a candidate is still not satisfied. At that point, he added, a candidate can file a contested election with the court, but they have to show why the vote count might be skewed.
For example, they might have proof that certain residents were not suppose to vote at all, or others were turned away at the polls for any number of reasons.