The Norman Transcript

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November 17, 2012

Counting ballots: Human vs machine

NORMAN — State Election Board officials said there is no evidence of missing ballots in the State House District 45 race in east Norman.

Concerns expressed Thursday night by attorney Greg Bledsoe following the recount of the District 45 election indicated Bledsoe thought ballots might be missing, but that is unlikely, election board officials said Friday.

Bledsoe cited eight votes in various precincts that candidates had not received after the recount.

He had asked the election board staff to check the voting machines and boxes and was assured that had already occurred.

Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams said they had checked the boxes, checked the machines, got down on their hands and knees to check and also shook the bins.

In precinct 30, Stiles received two less votes than the machines had recorded; in precinct 32, Roberts was down two votes from the machine count; and in precinct 82, Roberts was down one vote and Stiles was down two votes from the machine count. Those votes would have increased Stiles’ margin of victory to 17 if they had been included in the recount.

Missing votes don’t equate to missing ballots, however.

“Sometimes, when there is a hand count, people see something a little differently than the scanner counts it,” said Oklahoma Election Board Assistant Secretary Fran Roach. “I don’t know of any missing ballots.”

In a hand count, undervotes and overvotes are not recorded.

The loss of votes that Bledsoe was concerned about is common in a hand recount, Roach said.

Bledsoe is representing Democratic candidate Paula Roberts, a former longtime secretary of the election board. He has filed allegations of irregularities in the election and is asking that it be thrown out and a new election ordered. Earlier this year, Bledsoe represented Democrat Dan Arthrell in a recount where lost ballots which had been stuck in the machines caused the ballots not to be included in the manual recount.

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