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Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2000

Challenged ballots expected to break primary tie

August 3, 2000

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Tuesday's primary election produced winners, losers, but only one draw.

Democrats Lana Leach and Bruce Hanson each got 348 votes in their party's race to replace 47th District State Rep. Joann Flower, R-Oskaloosa, who is not seeking re-election.

But their stalemate isn't expected to last long. State election officials predict the tie will be broken Friday, when Douglas and Jefferson counties rule on ballots challenged during the primary election.

The 47th House District includes 12 precincts in Jefferson County and six in Douglas County.

Challenged ballots are not counted Election Night. Instead, they are set aside, ruled upon by each county's county commission and included in the official canvassing Friday.

On Wednesday, the Douglas County Clerk's Office reported having 10, possibly 11, challenged ballots in the Democratic primary for the 47th Kansas House District seat.

Jefferson County Clerk Linda Buttron said she had seven challenged ballots.

"I'm going to recommend that three of those not be counted," she said.

If the canvassing ends in a tie, Leach and Hanson each have until noon Monday to demand a recount, according to state election laws. If they don't, the results will be forwarded to the Kansas Secretary of State's Office for a second canvassing.

If the secretary's office upholds the tie, the State Board of Canvassers Gov. Bill Graves, Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh will "determine a winner by lot," usually by the flip of a coin, the last week in August.

The loser then has the option of challenging the process in court.

"I don't want to say it can't happen, but tie votes are very unusual," said Brad Bryant, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

They're unusual, he said, because they have to survive two counts, each involving slightly different numbers. The first count includes all uncontested ballots; the second count includes some or all of the contested ballots.

"Between election night and Friday's canvassing, the numbers can change a little. Not much, but enough to reduce the likelihood of a tie," Bryant said.

Most ballot challenges, Bryant said, question a voter's registration, party affiliation or residence.

Hanson, who lives in Oskaloosa, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Leach, who lives near Lawrence, said she wanted to await results of Friday's canvassing before commenting.

"I'm afraid that at this point I don't know enough to say anything. All we can do is wait," Leach said.

The eventual winner will face Lee Tafanelli, winner of the district's Republican primary, in the Nov. 7 general election.

Here's the count according to the unofficial vote tally:

Jefferson County Hanson 292, Leach 194.

Douglas County Hanson 56, Leach 154.

Total Hanson 348, Leach 348.

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