Judge approves recount petitions in 3 VB council races

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Three city council races appear to be heading for a recount next month in Virginia Beach. 

A judge on Monday approved petitions for  the Bayside District, the Beach District and an at-large council seat, and set a recount date of Dec. 17. That date is pending the approval of a state-appointed judicial panel.

These candidates are so close at less than 1 percent each, their recounts are free. Chances of overturning these races are small, but it has happened before, and maybe it could happen again.

Taxpayers will pay $100,000 for the recount, but as the candidates said, the peace of mind knowing there is 100 percent accuracy makes it worth it.

The three losing candidates who are now seeking recounts that could take place December 17 are Councilman John Uhrin in the Beach District, down by 212 votes; Dee Oliver, who ran at-large and is down by 347 votes; and Brad Martin in the Bayside District, who is down by 503 votes.

The city will be bringing in high-speed counters for the recount. The ruled Monday each of the six candidates can have assigned observers of their choosing at each recount station.

RELATED: City Council elections go to a recount

Attorney Gary Byler represents winning candidates Councilman John Moss (at-large) and Councilman Louis Jones in the Bayside District. 

He is opposed to bringing in a faster vote counter at $17,000 for rental instead of running the ballots through the vote counters used on election night. “If it’s $17,000 a pop for the machines, and it simply means taking another couple of hours then we are prepared to stay and spend the extra hours. All that matters is we get this count correct.”

The winning candidate in the Beach District, David Nygaard, agrees with that, and thinks he’ll remain the winner against Councilman Uhrin after the recount.

“I’m pretty confident the election is going to hold, and either way, I’m going to continue to prepare to take a seat on council.” Councilman Uhrin says, “There’s only 212 that separate us which is why this provision to allow for a recount to make sure every vote is counted accurately is a great thing. We are done with it, the politics. It is out of it, and now it’s just a math problem.”

All three current losing candidates are hoping the recount of ballots from the 171,361 voters will change the outcome in their favor. Brad Martin says, “this is certainly what we hope for. That is what we started our campaign on whether this does it or not we are interested in the accuracy of the vote.”

Dee Oliver adds, “there are a lot of over votes and under votes in the at-large race and it might change it, it might not … I think the recount is going to give a good accuracy to the votes. That’s what Judge Croshaw had mentioned.  That’s what we are looking for.  We are really pleased with the proceedings.”

The ballots will be put in ballot counters, and those that are spit out for whatever reason will be counted by hand at 14 tables with 3 election officers from an approved list under the watchful eye of one representative from each of the six candidates in the three races in question.

Byler says, “Look it happens sometimes you’ve checked a candidate, then you ‘x’ it and checked another well that’s not a vote because we can’t guess as to what they are doing. If it’s not clear voter intent then we don’t count those ballots.”

Brad Martin knows about election night errors. He first was up, then was down, due to clerical error in a single precinct of 1,000 votes given, then taken away.

“The results that came in election night were being hand entered by a lot of different poll workers at the end of a 15 hour day, so it is understandable that there is human error in those tabulations.”

Councilman Uhrin is hoping a recount vote correction puts him back on top over David Nygaard, whose victory most did not see coming, “We don’t want to have this cloud of uncertainty hanging over us, and the city as well.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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