Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race

The Monroe County Democratic Party will petition the Indiana state election division for a recount of votes in  the state house representative District 62 race, which was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens.

Left: Penny Githens (D). Right: Dave Hall (R). In these photos, they were giving stump speeches at a candidate event hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce held on Oct. 3, 2022.

That’s according to a news release issued by the MCDP on Monday morning.

The news release cites the 40-vote margin as the reason for the recount request.

MCDP chair David Henry is quoted in the release saying, “In such extremely close races, a recount is simply about exercising our candidate’s rights under the law, and crossing every t, and dotting every i.”

The procedure for election recounts in the state of Indiana is spelled out in three places: state election law; the state recount commission’s recount procedure manual; and the procedures manual for the state board of accounts.

Under state law, the deadline for a county party to petition for a recount is 17 days after the election, which translates this year to Monday (Nov. 28), due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Barring botched paperwork or failure to hit deadlines, state law indicates that the state recount commission has to order a recount.

Indiana’s recount commission is a three-member group, composed of the secretary of state, and one designee from each major political party: Holli Sullivan (secretary of state); Mark Wynn (Democrat); and Michael Claytor (Republican).

According to the news release, the MCDP request will be for a manual recount, which means that the recount will not be done just by feeding all the ballots from each precinct through an optical scanning machine, as they were on Election Day. Instead, the ballots will be tallied by hand.

The request for a manual recount applies just to Monroe and Brown counties, because those are the two counties in the District 62 area that use paper ballots.

At this early stage in the process, not a lot is certain about the time and place for the District 62 recount.

But the right of candidates, as well as the press and the general public, to observe the process is set out in state election law. The recounting procedure is subject to Indiana’s Open Door Law, but state election law allows restriction of access to some parts of a room where recounting takes place, if that’s needed to protect ballot security.

The certified tally to the secretary of state’s office was 12,990 votes for Hall and 12,950 for Githens.

The initial totals on election night had Hall much farther ahead. But that margin narrowed to 37 votes when the tallies from more than 6,000 ballots in Monroe County’s early voting process, which were supposed to have been included in the initial tally, were eventually added.

During the review of provisional ballots, Hall picked up 3 votes across the District 62 area, which includes parts of Monroe, Brown, and Jackson counties. The net gain of 3 for Hall made for a final certified margin of 40 votes.

That’s a difference of 0.154 percentage points, which is well under the 1-percent threshold that determines if a candidate has to pay for the recount.