Watson ‘owes’ recount to voters

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Butler County Commissioner Lynn Harold Watson wants to be certain that each and every vote in District 5 was counted.

It’s for that reason that he petitioned for a recount, which will be held Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Butler County Annex.

“It was brought to my attention after the election that a number of ballots didn’t record votes in the commissioner’s race,” Watson said. “It could be that those folks didn’t vote in the race, or it could mean that the ballot wasn’t read correctly by the machine. Either way I felt like I owed it to the people who went out and voted for me to at least take a look at it.”

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Darrell Sanders defeated Watson by just 14 votes. Twenty-eight ballots in District 5 did not register a vote in the race for Butler County Commissioner and were recorded as under votes.

“It’s enough that it could change the outcome,” Watson said. “The odds are tremendous that it won’t change a thing, but I don’t want to be wondering 10 years down the road if it would have.”

Watson will cover the cost of the recount, which he estimates to be approximately $1,000.

“I’m not ill or sore at anyone,” Watson said. “It’s not that I think Darrell won’t do a good job. I just want to make sure that for anyone who might have voted for me, their vote counts.”

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman said a petition for a recount can be granted on any grounds for contesting an election.

The grounds for contesting an election include malconduct, fraud, or corruption on the part of any inspector, clerk, marker, returning officer, board of supervisors or other person; ineligibility of the person elected; illegal votes; or the rejection of legal votes; offers to bribe, bribery, intimidation, or other malconduct calculated to prevent a fair, free, and full exercise of the elective franchise.

According to Norman, Watson’s petition for a recount is based on the rejection of legal votes.

“We’re going to be looking at all the ballots from District 5 and checking the under votes,” he said. “An under vote is basically where someone votes for say circuit clerk and president of the Public Service Commission, but does not vote in the county commission race. That would show up as an under vote. We’ll feed all the ballots back through the machines, and the ones it kicks out as having under votes, we’ll check and make sure that there wasn’t a vote in the commission race on that particular ballot. Sometimes if the ballot isn’t marked correctly, it will record all the other votes on the ballot and count that portion as an under vote. We’re just making sure the count was right.”

The Advocate was unable to reach Sanders for comment.