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Recount Confirms Two-Vote Victory In Columbus Council Race

Despite a slow start, a recount panel certified the original result in a Columbus City Council race decided by just two votes.

  • Columbus Recount

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    Photo: Kelly Gifford/Indiana Public Media News

    A three-person panel combed stacks of paperwork to determine that Columbus dentist Frank Jerome had, in fact, won the District 3 race for Columbus City Council.

  • Columbus recount

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    Photo: Kelly Gifford/Indiana Public Media News

    The Columbus race under question was won by two votes.

  • counting ballots

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    Photo: Kelly Gifford/Indiana Public Media News

    Columbus workers carefully count ballots for the city council election.

  • Recounting ballots

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    Photo: Kelly Gifford/Indiana Public Media News

    Columbus workers discuss the ballots that were being recounted Thursday.

After four hours of recounting, a panel in Columbus has certified a winner in a city council race decided by just two votes on Election Day.

In the end, Columbus dentist Frank Jerome, who entered the recount with a slim advantage over city worker Greg Noel, maintained his lead when it was determined the original 879-to-877 tally was correct.

Though there were only eight precincts to count and only a couple hundred absentee ballots were examined by hand, the count began slowly.  The first two precincts took a total of two hours to count, after initial tallies by the recount commission differed from computer-generated totals on Election Day.

Former Mayor Nancy Ann Brown, tapped by the county Democratic Party to be its representative on the panel, playfully jabbed Bartholomew County Clerk Tami Hines when repeated tallies kept coming up short.

“What we didn’t pick up on right away was the party-line vote,” Brown says.

Eventually, officials from Indianapolis vote machine manufacturer Microvote stepped in and realized Hines had failed to instruct the counters that some ballots had a single mark signifying the voter intended to pick all Republican or all Democratic candidates.

Only absentee two ballots were questioned by the board, with both eventually included in the official tally.  One had not received the proper stamp from the clerk’s office showing it had been received by the deadline, but had its on-time receipt confirmed by county records.  The other showed that a particularly enthusiastic voter had checked not only the straight-ticket Republican vote, but also the boxes for each individual GOP candidate.  Since Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann had instructed the panel to count ballots based on a voter’s intent, the ballot stood.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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