(June 26, 2006) -- With Gerrie Schipske certified by the City Clerk on June 23 as the winner of the 5th district City Council election, incumbent Vice Mayor/Councilwoman Jackie Kell has requested a hand recount of all the ballots in the ELB race.
The process effectively permits the candidates and their lawyers to view each one of the 11,100+ ballots cast in the 5th district Council contest.
Two-term incumbent Kell, who ran a write-in campaign remain in office under term limits, trailed Ms. Schipske by 169 votes in the final machine-counted tally [166 + 3 ruled out on prior hand-counted random sample].
The hand-recount process will begin Wednesday June 28 at 9 a.m. in the Miller room of the main library (101 Pacific Ave.) and is open to the public. A special entrance to the library (closed at that hour) will be provided.
Becky Burleson in the City Clerk's office estimates the task will likely take about two days. Four recount "boards" will operate simultaneously. Each "board" will consist of one person calling out the vote on each ballot ("Schipske" or "Kell"), two persons keeping separate tallies and another observing.
The candidates and/or their lawyers can observe and challenge the clerk's decision on how each ballot should be counted (for Schipske, for Kell, or "blank voted" because the voter didn't fill in the candidate choice bubble.)
Filling in the oval choice bubble is required for all offices, not just for the write-in race. [If you voted for any candidate in the June 6th city election, you filled in a candidate choice bubble to choose that candidate.] State law says if the bubble isn't filled in on the ballot for a race, it is considered blank voted in that race.
Kell's campaign is almost certainly interested in how many "blank voted" ballots may have Kell's name written-in but without oval bubble filled in. Ms. Schipske says she doubts there are enough of such ballots to change the outcome of the race.
However if the recount shows there are enough of such "blank voted" ballots to shift the outcome to Kell, it's speculated that Kell's lawyers may try to persuade a federal court judge to intervene and change the outcome of the race to declare Kell the winner.
Ms. Schipske says that under similar circumstances, a federal court in San Diego refused to become involved in what it considered was a matter of state law...and a state court ruled that the candidate bubble must be filled in or it doesn't count. [What a different federal judge might do when presented with the LB situation isn't known with certainty.]
Ms. Schipske is preparing to take office and indicates she plans to announce her transition team in the coming days...and she will also likely be interested in how many ballots, if any, may have had their candidate choice bubbles filled-in after the election by someone other than the voter(s). In a story first reported June 20 by LBReport.com, City Clerk Larry Herrera indicated that despite his explicit instructions, a miscommunication occurred and the temporary worker may have filled in the candidate choice bubble(s) on some ballots with Kell's name written in. Clerk Herrera said that to his knowledge at the time, this did not appear widespread but he and city officials were looking into the matter.