Recount likely in District 2 County Commission race

alopez@macon.comOctober 16, 2013 

Macon City Councilman Larry Schlesinger reacts to the razor-thin margin of victory over Councilman Henry Fickljn in District 2 of the new Macon-Bibb Commission. Video by Liz Fabian.

Macon councilmen Henry Ficklin and Larry Schlesinger have unfinished business in Macon-Bibb’s District 2 County Commission race. A recount of votes in Tuesday’s closest contest may be in the works pending the counting of provisional ballots.

Georgia law governing elections says that when the difference in the number of votes between candidates is less than 1 percent of the total votes cast, a recount request can be made by the losing candidate.

But before the candidate can request a recount, the results must be certified by county Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson.

Schlesinger received 1,710 votes to Ficklin’s 1,683, a difference of 27 votes. Provisional ballots, however, have not yet been counted. These are important, because a swing of just seven votes in Schlesinger’s favor would put him over the 1 percent threshold, and Ficklin would lose his right to request a recount.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Ficklin said he plans to request a recount should the less-than-1 percent margin hold after certification. He will have two business days after certification to make his request in writing.

Steve Allen, Board of Elections vice chairman, said he expects the election to be certified Friday. He said the procedure for the recount will be the same as it was on election night: Board of Elections staff will run every electronic ballot – not just those affecting District 2 – through the computers again and also count every absentee ballot by hand. Because the procedures are identical, Allen said, “there is no reason the numbers shouldn’t be the same.”

Election monitors and glitches

Ficklin questioned the location of each candidate’s election monitors at the Board of Elections office during Tuesday’s count. He said his monitor was seated outside the room where counting took place, while Schlesinger’s monitor had access to the area behind the glass where the machines are kept.

“If they knew that that person was working for Schlesinger’s campaign and they allowed him to go into the room and didn’t allow my person,” Ficklin said, “I have a problem with that.”

“I feel confident that the Board of Elections has done everything they could to make the whole election as fair as possible,” he added. “But there are some things beyond their reach, like the Secretary of State’s Office, which is in charge of the technology that they used.”

Ficklin also said there were a number of glitches at the polls.

“People who voted for me last time could not vote for me,” he said. “My name was not on their ballot.”

Ficklin said he called Secretary of State Elections Division supervisor Linda Ford to let her know his concerns regarding the glitches. He said he asked for the number of provisional ballots and finds it “suspicious” that the Board of Elections could not provide it to him.

Watson could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Instead, she sent out a mass email to local media.

“As I am sure you will all understand, I am very busy trying to finalize the Oct. 15, 2013 runoff election and I am sorry I’m not available for interviews,” she wrote in the email.

Schlesinger spoke to The Telegraph Tuesday morning from Temple Beth Israel where he is a rabbi

“Everybody needs to remember that every vote counts,” he said. “Your vote may actually be the difference in the election.”

Staff writer Liz Fabian contributed to this report. To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 477-4382.

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