GOSHEN — A recount will be held in a Goshen Common Council race that was decided by only two votes this month.
Republican Matt Shrock was elected to the District 3 seat over Democrat Jennifer Shell on a vote of 249-247. Shell petitioned the court for a recount Monday, and the judge has granted her request.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno’s order names Allan Kauffman, James Ramer and Chad Clingerman to the recount commission, which will meet at 8:15 a.m. on Dec. 5 in the courtroom. It also directs Elkhart County election staff to separate the ballots cast in precincts Elkhart 3, 4 and 8 and Jefferson 2 so they can be impounded until the recount is held.
A total of 592 ballots were cast in the Goshen District 3 race, out of 3,251 registered voters in those four precincts. The third candidate, independent Rafael Correa, received 33 votes.
The results of the recount will determine whether Democrats or Republicans hold a 4-3 majority on Goshen council.
Clerk of the Circuit Court Chris Anderson said Friday that the Elkhart County Election Board is confident in the unofficial election night results that were returned as well as the official results given Nov. 15 after the provisional ballots were reviewed. The board held a public test of the new tabulation equipment on Oct. 3, which returned the vote count they expected.
“With the new election tabulation equipment, the Election Board feels that there is very little margin of error in the original election night unofficial tabulation and the final official tabulation from Nov. 15. In talking with other clerks, hand tabulation is pretty much a standard request when it comes to a recount,” Anderson said by email. “The other thing to remember is that Elkhart County now has a paper ballot back up for every ballot cast in Elkhart County. This paper ballot is reviewed and verified by the voter several times before it is run through the optical scan tabulation equipment.”
He said he’s not sure if the judge’s order applies to the provisional ballots cast in Goshen District 3. Only one, a vote for Schrock, was validated and counted, and it’s unknown if any others were among the challenged ballots that were rejected by election officials the week after the election.
Anderson said he’s still looking through the statutes that govern recounts, along with election and voter registration staff and their attorney. He said they’re determining the items that are subject to the recount and putting together the policies, procedures and rules that will govern how the recount is conducted.
The last recount held in Elkhart County was in 2007, when Mike Settles filed a petition after losing to Brian Thomas to represent Elkhart City Council District 2, according to Anderson. He said the recount commission confirmed the original 489-485 vote count.