Monday, December 6, 2010

Even fewer votes decided HD 48

Updated: Thursday, 02 Dec 2010, 9:31 PM CST
Published : Thursday, 02 Dec 2010, 7:08 PM CST

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A recount in the election for Texas House District 48 shows just 12 votes decided the race, not 16 as previously thought. The result, however, remains the same.

“Everyone makes mistakes and we just wanted to make sure there were no mistakes made in this particular race,” said Dan Neil.

A recount called by Neil and his campaign team ended Thursday evening, revealing a new final tally.

“What we did today was, counted all of the paper ballots," said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. "We hand-tallied those. And we recounted all the electronic ballots. The changes all happened in the paper ballot part. The winner of the race is still Donna Howard.”

Republican challenger Dan Neil lost to incumbent Democrat Donna Howard in the Nov. 2 election, for the seat that serves Northwest Austin. Neil's campaign launched a $4,000 recount Wednesday, at its own expense.

A citizen committee of Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians conducted the recount. They sifted through 11,000 mail-in ballots to verify fewer than 3,000 which applied to District 48. The committee finished the process at about 6:30 Thursday evening.

The problem with the inconsistencies and difference in the final voting totals was the result the electronic machines that read the paper ballots.

“Sometimes the scan machine saw a vote that, when we looked at it with our human eyes...that’s not correct and we corrected those those,” said the Recount Committee Chair Bill Aleshire.

As the recount was wrapping up, Neil released a statement saying there was a mistake made with overseas ballots, but the Travis County Elections office said those mistakes were made by the voters themselves, not elections officials.? As a result, those ballots were considered invalid.

“I don’t want to prolong it," said Neil. "I understand the perception that can be made that hey, he’s doing everything he can to get that seat. I’m just here as an advocate for the voter. And whoever wins this seat, I’m completely fine with that result.”

Neil still has an option to appeal the vote count, but that decision would rest with state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

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