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What it will take to get a recount in the at-large council race

The Dorchester Reporter lists the steps the campaign of Alejandra St. Guillen will have to take to seek a recount of Tuesday's results, which show her losing the fourth at-large seat to Julia Mejia by just 10 votes.

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I support a recount, but I fear this may turn into more of a hassle than it should. Aren't most (all?) of the votes collected on scanned ballots? It seems that simply re-tallying the counts on each machine would be sufficient.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin says:

“They have the option and most probably will ask for a hand count of the 66,000 ballots, which means ... each card will be individually examined to make sure what choices are counted."

Scanners are very accurate. Humans are less accurate. It's really not necessary to re-examine, by hand, each ballot. The only thing likely to come from that is increased error via missed votes (i.e. when two ballots get stuck together and thus one is not recounted.) What if someone circled the bubble that they were supposed to fill in? Does that signal that they intended to vote for that person? (The scanner wouldn't record that vote, if they didn't FILL IN the bubble.)

As I say, I support a recount, but not a MANUAL recount.

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and it is absolutely not less accurate than the scanner. Each ballot will be looked at by an election department employee, recorded by another and witnessed by representatives from each campaign. If there is any disagreement among those people, the ballot will undergo further scrutiny. I assume only the Mejia and St. Guillen votes will be looked at.

This is not done by one person sitting there and sifting through the ballots.

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The lingo and process are different, particularly with the new scanners used in Boston (and for several years in Cambridge and elsewhere). The Imagecast Tabulator (more new lingo) returns (rejects) ambiguous marks. Those include circling an oval or checking it instead of filling it entirely in. My precinct's rejected ballots were divided between ambiguous marks and overvotes. Despite the instructions, some voters were not satisfied with only four at-large councilors.

The returned ballot gets snagged by a poll worker and the voter gets another go to smear the ovals. This should not be an issue in a recount.

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I mean, it could be complicated .. but it doesn't have to be, and that's beside the point, as I realize you realize.

It's 10 votes. That's a good enough reason. Perhaps the city should have a rule about auto-recounts that doesn't force a candidate to go through hoops when in the end it's a machine or a person who made "mistakes".

Someone posted online that in 2001, Arroyo (6th) and Consalvo (5th) were 30 votes apart and because of the recount they switched places. Then, when an at-large seat opened up, the fifth-placed winner (Arroyo, now in 5th) took that person's place.

Also, I've worked at a polling booth here in Boston at least 5 times during the past two decades (not during my own races, lol) and between absentee and provisionals, I'd say there's enough "doubt" that it's worthy.

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I have hanging chads....They’re killing me!!

10 votes with that many ballots and some that might still meander in from oversees by Friday night seems like a good reason to have a recount. I doubt it will change the math but I don't think any candidate would walk away from a ten vote split with so many votes cast.

The first campaign I ever helped on won by one vote then in the recount we lost by one vote. So things can happen... this is why voters need to vote, volunteers need to hustle and candidates need to go until 8pm. You never know how close the race may be and every vote really does matter, sometimes.

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What about absentee ballots? Why not call the whole thing off and let Althea stay?

Seems 10 votes is a small enough margin to automatically generate a recount - what's with this getting petitions signed in EVERY ward?

How are absentee ballots counted in Boston? Always counted? Or sealed unless needed?

With only 16% of Boston voting, the margin isn't that small.

But there may be provisional ballots. Those don't necessarily get counted.

I wonder how Wu would fare if she faced off against Steve Lynch in a run for Congress.

We suffering folks represented by Lynch will have to look elsewhere.

As she lives in Pressley's district.

A different Wu.

Legally, though, there wouldn't be anything stopping the first Wu from running against Lynch and the second Wu - you just have to live in the same state, not the same congressional district.