After a five-hour recount Monday, Rep. Sarah Buxton (D-Tunbridge) and Republican challenger David Ainsworth of Royalton came to a tie, at least for the moment.
“This is kind of crazy,” Buxton said by phone late Monday afternoon.
Election Day results showed Buxton ahead of Ainsworth by three votes, 1,003 to 1,000. After ballots were recounted by tabulator machines Monday at the Windsor County Courthouse in Woodstock, the candidates stood at 1,000 to 1,000, with two ballots in dispute.
Buxton said a judge will review those two ballots. She argued that the voters’ intent on both of them is unclear and that it’s also unclear whether the vote tabulator counted them.
Vermont Republican Party executive director Jeff Bartley disagreed, saying that the two votes are for Ainsworth and they were not included in the 1,000-to-1,000 tally. “If he gets either, he wins,” Bartley said.
Buxton said that if she believes the ballots are still questionable after a ruling from the judge, she may request a recount by hand.
If the vote were to remain tied after a judge’s ruling, state law calls for a revote within three weeks, Secretary of State Jim Condos said.
This isn’t the first close vote for Buxton and Ainsworth. In 2010, he was the incumbent and she was the challenger. She won by one vote, then prevailed over him in rematches in 2012 and 2014.
A recount in a Franklin County House seat Monday was more clear. Former representative Cindy Weed, an Enosburg Falls Progressive, said the recount showed her 12 votes ahead of Rep. Larry Fiske (R-Enosburg Falls).* That’s three fewer votes than she had from Election Day results, but enough to win.
In Orange County, another House recount remained incomplete. Rep. Susan Hatch Davis (P-Washington) was trailing Republican challenger Robert Frenier of Chelsea by eight votes. At day’s end, a judge ruled that the incomplete recount will resume November 28, said Bartley, who attended the recount.
Correction, November 23, 2016: An earlier version of this story misspelled Larry Fiske's name.