Vote recount could begin next week for District 1 seat

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

May 16, 2012 at 12:16 a.m.

A former Victoria City Councilwoman who lost the District 1 seat by three votes filed a recount petition Tuesday.

After the final count Saturday evening, Denise Rangel lost her second term on the City Council to Emett Alvarez with a vote of 383 to 380.

Rangel almost immediately asked when she could file a recount, which was after the results were canvassed at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

"I owe it to my supporters and my family," she said. "With the vote count this tight, it's important to have it right."

Any losing candidate seeking local office can have the votes recounted if the difference between the ballots is less than 10 percent, according to the Texas Election Code.

Voter turnout in the May 12 election was 5,162, or 10.3 percent of the total registered voters. There were 927 mail-in ballots, but there is not yet an official count specific to District 1.

Because an electronic voting system was used in the election, Rangel was required to put up a $100 deposit for each of the eight precincts in the district. The funds came from a campaign contribution, she said.

If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the entire deposit is returned. If the outcome does not change, specific costs for staffing and service charges are paid from the deposit, according to the election code.

Rangel said filing for recount is the "right thing" to do in a situation such as this.

Mayor Will Armstrong said he expects the recount to start next week, after he appoints a recount committee.

"I've never done this before and I don't think (the city attorney) has either," Armstrong said. "It's all in the election code. We want to make sure we're doing it absolutely right."

City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said the next step is a 48-hour period to review Rangel's petition. If there is anything missing, Rangel has 48 hours to make a correction. Then the mayor can select a recount committee.

Rangel said she is optimistic that the mail-in ballots will put her back on the Council.

"There are some mail-in ballots that are up to interpretation," she said.

In the end, she said she wants to know "for certain" who the voters want in the seat.

"I am proud of the clean, honest campaign I ran," she said. "I told the truth and I accept all responsibility for what I said."

Elections Administrator George Matthews said that because of the tallying technology used in the May 12 election, a change in the results is not likely.

Matthews said the recount of mail-in ballots will present a greater likelihood of change because the machine might have misread one. The electronic ballots will not likely change.

"The process of a recount is tedious, but the vote count is pretty accurate," Matthews said. "If we don't come up with same number in a hand count, we start over and count it again. The machine count is very accurate."



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