On Wednesday, a group of state officials and interested parties to Indiana’s state house District 62 recount process made the rounds to the three affected counties, to complete the pre-recount procedures.
The race in District 62, which includes areas in Monroe, Brown and Jackson counties, was won by Republican Dave Hall, who had a certified tally of 12,990 votes. That was 40 more than Democrat Penny Githens received.
Election Day was Nov. 8.
On Wednesday, recount director Philip Sicuso indicated that some additional sorting and preparation would take place through the rest of this week. The recounting activity itself is to start next week (Dec. 12).
The recounting in Monroe County is not expected to start until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning (Dec. 14), Sicuso said.
The group that made the pre-recount visits wrapped up their Wednesday in Monroe County.
They met where the ballots are stored, at Election Central in the old Johnson’s Hardware building, at 7th and Madison Streets. They had started their day in Jackson County, then traveled to Brown County.
Last Tuesday, the state police impounded the ballots in all three counties.
Part of the pre-recount procedure, as described in the state recount commission’s manual, is for the impounded election material to be inspected, under the supervision of the state board of accounts and the Indiana state police.
Recount director Philip Sicuso and state police first sergeant Brad Stille were present for the pre-recount inspection, as described in the recount commission’s manual.
Also present for the Monroe County visit were: attorneys for Githens and Hall; staff from the state board of accounts; David Henry, who is Monroe County Democratic Party chair and filer of the recount petition; Dee Owens and Susan Luther, who were observing for Penny Githens; Cory Ray, who was observing on behalf of the state house Democratic Caucus; Matthew Kochever, co-counsel for the state election division; Bradley King, co-director of the bipartisan Indiana election division; Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler; and deputy clerk Tressia Martin, among others.
According to Kochevar, there will be six teams of two people who perform the manual review of the ballots.
Responding to a B Square question, Kochevar said the amount that’s been paid for the recount by Githens’s side is $430. The breakdown of that amount is $100 for the first 10 of 43 precincts in the recount request—that’s all of them in District 62—plus $10 per precinct for the remaining 33 precincts.
The cost is determined under state law by the fact that the percentage difference between Hall and Githens was less than 1 point.
Kochevar said it’s the state election division that bears any direct costs associated with the recount. The counters will be state employees, he said.
The statutory deadline for completing the recount is Dec. 20, Kochevar said.
Also subject to the deadline is another recount affecting just Monroe County precincts. That’s the recount of the Benton Township board race.
In the Benton Township board race, where the top three vote getters win election, Democrat Hans Kelson finished fourth, missing third-place by a 4-vote margin. The third-place finisher was Republican Jake Dodds.
Given that all of Monroe County’s ballots have been impounded for the District 62 state house election recount, the Benton Township recount will have to wait a while to start.
Special judge Erik Allen, from Greene County, has been appointed to handle the Benton Township recount. He’s the judge who presided over the lower court phase of the lawsuit over the rightful appointment to the Bloomington plan commission, which was resolved two months ago in Bloomington’s favor.