Sedgwick County Official: Primary Race Recount Validates Election Process

Aug 22, 2018

Sedgwick County’s election office is using last week’s recount of a primary race as a benchmark for future recounts or post-election audits.

A candidate seeking the Sedgwick County Commission’s 4th District seat requested a manual recount of election results.

Hugh Nicks paid $1,000 for the recount after election results showed he lost the Republican primary for the 4th District to Commissioner Richard Ranzau by 75 votes.

Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman says 16 people from both political parties sorted and counted each ballot to verify votes matched results from a voting machine.

Lehman says when the recount of nearly seven thousand votes came up with the same results, it was validating.

"This is the second recount in less than a year that we’ve had, and this is the second time that we’ve come out exactly the same," she says. "It makes us feel that we are doing a good job here, that we are keeping things secure, that we are counting correctly, and that is very satisfying."

The process offers a better estimate of the time and staff needed for recounts.

Last week's recount took about two days — a bit longer than was expected. Lehman says the first recount was 800 votes, so it did not provide a good estimate of the time required for a race that had nearly 7000 votes cast.

She says Sedgwick County upgraded its voting equipment last year, with machines that provide a backup paper ballot, to help the recount process.

"With old machines, the only thing we could’ve done is re-read the memory sticks," she says. "You come out with the same number, but that doesn’t really give voters that much confidence that we’ve recounted. With this, we have that physical paper ballot to go to, so we are checking to make sure that what the machine counted is what the person had on that ballot."

A canvassing board certified the results of the recount on Friday afternoon. Ranzau received 3,513 votes and Nicks received 3,438 votes.

Ranzau will face Democrat Lacey Cruse in the fall election.

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