Vets Day delays counting of votes

Published 11:43 am Friday, November 11, 2011

Final decisions on closely fought races for tax collector and chancery clerk will remain in doubt at least until Monday because the Warren County Courthouse and other government offices are closed today for Veterans Day.

Absentee ballots from 11 of Warren County’s 22 precincts show 86 votes separate Tax Collector Antonia Flaggs-Jones and Republican challenger Patty Mekus. The incumbent had entered the day 114 votes ahead. At the end of Thursday’s counting, Flaggs-Jones had 7,317 votes to Mekus’ 7,231.

Republican Donna Farris Hardy saw her lead grow by 32 votes over Democrat Walter Osborne at the end of Thursday’s count. Hardy had 6,645 votes to Osborne’s 6,209.

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On Thursday, the Circuit Clerk’s Office had counted 11 precincts in full by 4:30 p.m. and was about a third of the way through Culkin’s results when all parties agreed to stop for the weekend.

Absentee vote counts in general elections are handled by circuit clerk’s offices, which function as the registrar of voters. Counts must be handled under the office’s official capacity, which can’t happen unless the courthouse is open, Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree said.

Culkin, the county’s largest precinct, had 121 absentees to count overall, said Jim Moore, an election support staff member with the Warren County Election Commission. Mekus won 66 percent of the poll vote there. Precincts yet to be counted include Vicksburg Junior High School and American Legion — the next largest polling places. Flaggs-Jones won 74 percent of the Election Day vote at the two central-city precincts.

So far, absentees from the Redwood, Bovina, Auditorium, 3-61, St. Aloysius, Cedar Grove, Brunswick, Kings, YMCA, Plumbers and Pipefitters and Oak Ridge precincts have been counted.

Counts of affidavit ballots began Thursday by the Election Commission and can be scanned into the main processing computer at the courthouse.

Reprinted ballots received in October to include economic impact of three constitutional initiatives arrived without scannable codes on them, which has forced a long-hand tally in several counties.

Going through each requires that a deputy clerk read the voter’s choice in each of 26 races and the three initiatives on Tuesday’s ballot.

Unofficial results showed 47.6 percent of Warren County’s 30,898 registered voters cast ballots at the polls Tuesday, up from 36 percent from 2007.