For the next three days, six staffers in the Secretary of State's office will slog through a mountain of election results to determine who won the contested Democratic primary for governor.
Peter Shumlin claimed victory yesterday after Associated Press figures gave him a 190-vote unofficial lead over Doug Racine. But Racine isn't conceding until results are official, and hasn't ruled out a recount.
By 4 p.m. Thursday, the secretary's office had received official "return of vote" forms from town clerks in all but three or four communities, said state elections director Kathy DeWolfe (pictured). DeWolfe and her staff planned to work straight through the weekend, 12 hours a day if need be, entering results into a database that will become the official record. They're doing "double data entry," meaning each set of results is entered by two different people, to ensure accuracy.
"The chances of two people entering the same wrong thing are slim," said DeWolfe, adding that she's never had an issue with the system.The vote counting (pictured below) could be done as early as Saturday afternoon, DeWolfe said, but the results won't become official until 10 a.m. Tuesday when the Canvassing Committee meets to certify the results. The committee is composed of Secretary of State Deb Markowitz (herself a candidate for governor, who trailed Shumlin by some 800 votes but has not yet conceded) and the state chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties.
If Shumlin or Racine requests a recount, he would have to file a written petition with the Secretary of State's office, DeWolfe says. Then, it would go to Washington County Superior Court, where the candidates would get a five-day notice before the recount begins. DeWolfe said the candidates could opt to waive the five-day waiting period.
Of the 246 towns in Vermont, 100 use optical scan tabulation machines, which they'd use in the recount, and 146 hand-count ballots, DeWolfe said. However, the 100 towns with scanners include the largest population centers, she said, and account for about 70 percent of all ballots.
The Racine campaign still isn't saying whether he'll seek a recount if the vote totals hold. Campaign manager Amy Shollenberger did say that Racine would decide when the numbers are fully counted — possibly Saturday — rather than waiting for certification on Tuesday, which is a simple formality.
"We're not willing to say whether Doug's leaning toward a recount until he sees the numbers," Shollenberger said.
Shumlin said on WDEV-FM's "Mark Johnson Show" today that if he were Racine, he would not ask for a recount. Shumlin said Democrats need to regroup for the general election and focus on defeating Republican candidate Brian Dubie.