* updated below - today's recount challenge was decided by a Vermont judge*
The Monty Python-esque shout of "I'm not dead yet!" seems to be the rallying cry for the 2010 election.
Three weeks beyond the November 2 election, we still don't know for sure just how many Democrats, Progressives and Republicans will be in the House come January 5. That's because there were nine recount requests around Vermont.
So far, two recounts have been held.
The first recount, in Orange County, was held on November 19, but the results were challenged in court. The recount results upheld the election day win by four votes, with Progressive incumbent Susan Hatch-Davis over Republican Rodney Graham. A Vermont Superior Court judge certified the recount Monday, assuring the victory for Hatch-Davis.
Another recount — in a House district encompassing Royalton and Tunbridge — was held yesterday. On election day, Democrat Sarah Buxton defeated Republican incumbent David Ainsworth by a single vote.
The recount ended up with an 880-880 tie, and one vote was being challenged. That single vote, according to sources, was lightly penciled in for Buxton, but Ainsworth wants a judge to throw it out. If he’s successful, a special election would be held to determine the winner.
A judge could rule as early as today on that race. * This afternoon, a judge ruled in favor of Buxton, giving her a one-vote victory.
Six more recounts are scheduled for next week, either Monday or Tuesday, with the final recount of election 2010 scheduled for December 7. Of those races, the ones to watch are: Incumbent Rep. Gale Courcelle (D-Rutland City) and her one-vote lead over Republican challenger Douglas Gage, and Democrat Sam Young’s three-vote lead over incumbent Rep. John Rodgers (D-Glover). In the latter race, the Democrats already held one of the two seats in this district.
The other races, while within the margin for seeking a recount, seem less likely to be overturned because of the winning margins.
In Essex, incumbent Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson has a 13-vote lead over Republican challenger Tim Allard. In Rutland City, Democrat Herb Font-Russell holds a 17-vote lead over Republican Carl Haas. In Rutand, Republican Tom Burditt holds a 20-vote lead over Republican Dick Norris in a race to fill a seat vacated by Rep. Joe Baker.
In St. Johnsbury, Democratic freshman Rep. Bob South — whose seat was targeted by the GOP — holds a 22-vote lead over Republican Tim Persons. That recount is scheduled for December 7.
Finally, in Franklin County, incumbent Rep. Peter Perley (R-Enosburg Falls) leads Progressive Cindy Weed by 34 votes.
At stake is whether the GOP can pick up a couple seats to increase their 48-member caucus. Despite national gains, the Vermont GOP was unable to boost its numbers in the Vermont House. In the 2009-2010 biennium, the GOP had 48 seats in the House and seven in the 30-member state Senate. In the most recent election, the GOP was able to net one additional seat in the Senate.
In addition, the secretary of state's office will conduct an audit of election results in the following cities and towns:
• Burlington (Ward 1 polling station in the Chitenden 3-6 legislative district)
The audit will take place on November 30 at the College Hall Chapel on College Street in Montpelier.