Thursday, April 1, 2004

Recount begins next week

GOP's nominees for Senate waiting

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tom Niehaus and Jean Schmidt will have to wait at least until April 9 to learn who will be the Republican nominee for the 14th District Ohio Senate seat.

Next week, the five counties that comprise the district - Clermont, Brown, Adams, Scioto and Lawrence counties - will conduct recounts of the votes in the March 2 primary.

Clermont, the most populous county in the district, will conduct its recount Monday; Adams will hold its on Wednesday; Brown on April 8, and Scioto on April 9. Lawrence County hasn't set a date yet for its recount, said James Lee, Ohio secretary of state spokesman.

In the unofficial results tallied on primary night, Schmidt beat Niehaus by 62 votes - 16,911 to 16,849. But the canvass results released Friday indicated Niehaus won by 26 votes - 17,092 to 17,066.

If the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent of the vote total - which computes to 170 in the canvass results - state law mandates an automatic recount. The margin of victory was well under the maximum number for an automatic recount.

In the recounts, the boards of election will run the ballots through the scanners, the same process they went through for canvassing last week to certify the votes.

As permitted by law, both Schmidt and Niehaus will have representatives at the boards of election watching the recount.

"They can ask questions, and they can see the ballots," said Dan Bare, director of the Clermont County Board of Elections. "But they can't touch the ballots."

Clermont's recount will begin at 8:30 a.m. and might last all day, he said.

State law requires all five of the counties to complete their recounts by April 9. If the recount winds up in a tie, a coin toss could determine the winner.

Niehaus could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Schmidt said she's trying not to think about the recount.


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