Republican Jake Dodds has been confirmed as winning one of the three seats on the Benton Township board in Monroe County, Indiana.
The result of a manual recount of the ballots, which concluded Thursday morning around 11 a.m., provided a 3-vote margin for Dodds over fourth-place finisher, Democrat Hans Kelson.
Before the provisional ballots were adjudicated on Nov. 18—that’s 10 days after the Nov. 8 Election Day—Dodds was up by 6 votes over Kelson. Dodds had 621 votes compared to 615 for Kelson.
The adjudication of the provisional ballots added 2 more votes to Kelson’s total. That reduced the margin to 4 votes—621 to 617. That’s when Monroe County Democratic Party chair David Henry filed a petition requesting a manual recount.
After the manual recount, Dodds had one fewer vote and Kelson had the same number, leaving a 3-vote gap.
That means the Benton Township board that’s sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2023 will consist of Dodds, and Democrats Sean McInerney and Joseph Husk. The Benton Township trustee’s election was won by Democrat Michelle Bright over Republican Josh Dodds.
Judge Erik Allen out of Greene County oversaw the recount work. On Thursday, after the recount commissioners had completed their work at Monroe County’s Election Central, Allen told them: “I observed the process from beginning to end, and I have full confidence in the job that was completed.”
Allen added, “I think you’ve been very diligent and I appreciate your work and certainly have full confidence in the result.”
The race for Benton Township board was not settled for good until 51 days after Election Day, due to some factors outside the control of Monroe County election officials.
First, the recount work for the township board race was delayed after it got started last week, due to the forecasted winter storm.
Second, the township board recounting work got a late start, because all of the ballots in Monroe County were impounded in connection with the recount in the District 62 state house race. The recounting work for that race confirmed Dave Hall as the winner over Democrat Penny Githens.
The state recount commission certified the final tally in the District 62 race on Dec. 20. Only then could the Benton Township recount start.
The recount for the District 62 race reduced the work for the three local recount commissioners by at least a little bit. One of the two Benton precincts, Benton 02, is included in District 62, which meant the Benton 02 ballots were already sorted into a segregated stack.
But the local recount commissioners still had to isolate the Benton 01 precinct ballots from other Monroe County precinct ballots.
District 62 state house race winner Dave Hall was on hand Thursday morning to serve as a recount watcher for Dodds. Serving as a watcher for Kelson was Cory Ray.
Under state election law, a circuit court judge has to appoint a three-member recount commission for a township board race.
Judge Erik Allen’s appointees to the recount commission were: William Ellis, who is Monroe County Republican Party vice chair; Fred Turner, a local attorney who has run for judge as a Democrat; and Bob White, who is Monroe County’s IT contractor for election support.
White filled the slot on the commission that is described under the state law on recounts for local races as “… a competent mechanic who is familiar with the ballot card voting systems or electronic voting systems used in that election.”