Vote count resumes

Published 12:13 pm Monday, November 14, 2011

Counting votes from last Tuesday’s general election continued today from multiple locations inside the Warren County Courthouse as officials tracked two close races for tax collector and chancery clerk.

County government buildings were closed Friday for Veterans Day, and vote counts were suspended until today.

Deputy circuit clerks this morning picked up where they left off, from inside the chancery courtroom, totaling the balance of 121 absentee ballots cast in the Culkin precinct. Officials had tallied about a third of Culkin by Thursday evening.

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After the noon hour, counting was to be moved back to county court. Trials scheduled in circuit court prevented the clerks from using the space near their office that is the traditional election night gathering place for candidates to watch votes arrive.

Absentee ballots from 11 of Warren County’s 22 precincts totaled through Thursday show 86 votes separate Tax Collector Antonia Flaggs-Jones and Republican challenger Patty Mekus — a 15-vote swing for Mekus. At the end of Thursday’s counting, Flaggs-Jones had 7,317 votes to Mekus’ 7,231.

In the chancery race, Republican Donna Farris Hardy led Democrat Walter Osborne by 436 votes — 6,645 to 6,209. Hardy has gained 22 votes in the absentee count.

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.

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

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.

Counts of affidavit ballots continued today by the Election Commission. Those ballots, cast most often by residents whose addresses can’t be verified at polling places, can be scanned into the main processing computer at the courthouse.

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.