GOSHEN — The county’s new hybrid voting machines may be put to the test for the first time after a hand recount was requested by a Goshen candidate who narrowly lost her race.
Democrat Jennifer Shell lost her bid for a seat on Goshen City Council by one vote on Nov. 5. Her Republican opponent, Matt Schrock, picked up one additional vote when valid provisional ballots were counted, bringing his lead in the District 3 race to 249-247.
If Schrock’s victory is allowed to stand, Republicans will continue to hold a 4-3 majority on council as they have for the past several years.
Shell formally requested Monday that ballots cast in her district be manually recounted. She contends in the petition filed in Elkhart County Circuit Court that the votes were not correctly counted and returned originally, and asks that cards from ballot systems in Elkhart precincts 3, 4 and 8 and Jefferson Precinct 2 be tallied again.
The Elkhart County Election Board purchased hundreds of new voting machines for all vote centers this year, which have both a touchscreen and a paper ballot. In presenting the $1.7 million purchase request to county officials, Clerk of the Circuit Court Chris Anderson said the machines meet new state standards expected in the coming years, which would mandate having a paper trail to make hand recounts possible.
Shell asks that the court enter an order appointing a recount commission, set a date, time and place for the recount, and order that the election materials be impounded in preparation for a recount. Anderson said he expects Judge Michael Christofeno to rule on the request later this week.
A precinct by precinct breakdown shows that there are 3,251 registered voters in those four precincts, among whom a total of 592 ballots were cast. The third candidate in the District 3 race, Independent Rafael Correa, received 33 votes.
Neither Shell nor Correa picked up any votes when the provisional ballots were counted. About three-quarters of the more than 80 challenged ballots were discarded in the process, for reasons including not being registered to vote, not being eligible to vote in a municipal election or lack of signature.