The Jasper County Board of Supervisors held a canvass Friday to verify and finalize the votes from last Tuesday’s elections. While the results haven’t changed, the race for the four seats on the Newton Community School Board of Education wasn’t as close as early reports indicated.
Unofficial results indicated Darrin T. Hamilton received 461 votes; however, the canvass verified he only received 351 votes. It was also reported the newly elected board member Travis Padget received 605 votes, but he actually had 612 votes.
Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott explained the mix-up occurred due to write-in votes being hand counted and phoned into his office.
“There could have three possible things that could have happened,” Parrott said. “The person calling in the votes could have inaccurately reported the vote, a person in the office could have mistakenly written down the numbers or I could have typed them incorrectly.”
The canvass verified Robyn Friedman as the top vote getter at 723. Sheri Benson received 643 votes, Padget received 612 votes, incumbent-board president Andy Elbert held onto the last seat with 474 votes. Klingensmith was the next runner-up with 405 votes and Hamilton finished last with 351 votes.
In total, 1,040 citizens voted in the election for the NCSD Board of Education and the 6.99 percent turnout was more than double the 3.2 percent average of the last three elections.
Despite the mix-up, Parrott expressed the utmost confidence in the county’s voting machines.
“On Election Day, the voting machine counts the number of ovals that were marked as write-ins and dumps those write-in ballots in a separate bin in the machine,” he said. “It cannot count handwritten names. At the end of the election, the precinct election officials take out those ballots and manually count the names that have been written in.”
Parrott said it’s his office’s job to act as referees in elections and they are impartial on the matter, and there is a reason they wait three days to verify election results.
“I’m 100 percent sure that the election is right,” Parrott said. “We counted the ballots, counted the ovals. The law sets the canvass of the election three days after the election to give the auditor time to audit the election.”
“(We start) preparing for the canvass and include any absentee ballots that were postmarked on or before the election to arrive in the office and be counted by the time of the canvass,” he continued. “The results are always preliminary until the canvass is complete.”
With city council and mayoral elections upcoming, Parrott advises candidates to get their names placed on the ballot in the future.
“It is good to get your name on the ballot,” Parrott said. “Nobody has to worry then about spelling the name right, nobody has to worry about hand counting the ballots, because the machine takes care of that. A lot of times, people go to vote and they don’t see the name of the person that they are looking for.”
“They don’t know who to vote for and if they haven’t been instructed about a write-in, they a lot of times don’t vote and we have a lot of under votes,” he continued. “It’s really good if you think you are going to run to get your name on the ballot, and it eliminates many, many problems that happen when there are write-in candidates. Not that there shouldn’t be (write-ins). It’s in the law, but it’s better if you decide to run to get your signatures.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.