Recount in sheriff's race to be held Wednesday

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The Franklin County Board of Elections will hold a recount in the race for sheriff on Wednesday.

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  • The Franklin County Board of Elections will hold a recount in the race for sheriff on Wednesday.
    The Franklin County Board of Elections will hold a recount in the race for sheriff on Wednesday.
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CARNESVILLE – A recount of ballots in the race for Franklin County sheriff will begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Franklin County Elections and Registration Office at 7850 Royston Road in Carnesville.

Scott Andrews formally requested a recount one day after losing by just 26 votes to incumbent Sheriff Stevie Thomas in the Republican primary election Tuesday.

The Board of Elections formally certified the results of the election Friday.

State law allows candidates within one percent of a winning candidate to request a recount within two days of the vote being certified.

Rules adopted by the Georgia Board of Elections say that that the recount “shall be conducted by tabulating all ballots utilizing ballot scanners.”

Tuesday’s election was the first time the state has used a new voting system in which voters mark ballots on a touch-screen computer. The ballots are then printed out and scanned for the votes to count.

Elections officials will rescan all ballots – Republican, Democratic and non-partisan – during the recount, but only the sheriff’s race will be counted.

The scanners used in the recount will be tested Tuesday prior to the recount to make sure they are working properly.

The rules spell out that the recount must be done publicly. 

Review panels must be appointed and are required to check any ballots that are marked improperly, torn, bent or have other issues that keep the ballot from being scanned and counted. If needed, the panel will create a duplicate ballot that will be used to cast the vote.

“After all of the valid ballots to be included in the recount have been tabulated, the superintendent shall cause a printout to be made of the results and shall compare the results to the results previously obtained,” the rules state. “If upon completing the recount, it shall appear that the original vote count for the recounted contest was incorrect, such returns and all papers being prepared by the superintendent shall be corrected accordingly.”

Elections Supervisor Gina Kesler said that she doesn’t know how long it will take to recount the votes.

According to the certified results released Friday, Thomas garnered 2,874 votes in the primary for sheriff to Andrews’ 2,848, a difference of just .45 percent.

A total of 6,496 people voted in either the Republican, Democratic or non-partisan ballots. 

The non-partisan ballot included only state and local judicial races, with two Supreme Court contests the only ones contested.

Of the 6,496 total voters, 5,813 voted in the Republican primary, which included all of the local political races, while 608 voted as Democrats and 75 voted non-partisan.

The sheriff’s race recorded 5,722 votes, meaning that 91 people who voted Republican did not choose a candidate in the election.

Most of the ballots that were not marked in the sheriff’s race were mailed-in absentee ballots.

Sixty-two voters – out of 2,733 – who voted by absentee did not vote in the sheriff’s race, elections documents show. Four people – out of 995 – who voted early in person did choose a sheriff’s candidate. On Election Day, 25 out of 2,085 voters did not choose a candidate.

Thomas won those who voted by mail by a 247-vote margin (1,459-1,212), while Andrews won those voting early in person 549-442 and those who cast ballots on Election Day 1,067-973.

Broken down by precincts, Thomas won the Canon precinct – where he lives – by a 332-192 margin and also won the Northeast Franklin, Lavonia and Royston precincts.

Andrews won the Southwest Franklin precinct by a wide margin – 556-432 – and also won the Carnesville and West Franklin precincts.