Potrero Planning Group Recall Election

This recall election was significant because it was one of the first elections after Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the Diebold voting machines.


The Vote Count - Potrero Recall Election - December 11, 2007.

A group of about 20 people observed the election. They signed us in, had us agree to a sheet of rules. At about 8 p.m., Debra Seiler gave a short speech at the counter. They walked us back to a caged room where the ballots were held in a single mailroom tray. The ballots were already removed from their envelopes at that point, a surprise to many of the observers.

The group was then led to a conference room where they set up for counting. Two people were the readers, one to read and one to check. They swapped jobs every twenty minutes or so. Two other people were the talliers. They each had checkers. The first person tallied the first two recall and replacement items, the other person tallied the other three.

The process was very monotonous. The reader would say "Recall Question Number 1. Jerry Johnson. Yes. To succeed, Terry Stephens. Recall Question number 2. Mary Johnson. Yes..." and so forth. I caught the entire process on film so we can study the process. The counting completed at about midnight. I left at about 12:20 am.

Total Registered Voters: 509  
Ballots Received: 306  
Ballots Counted: 280  
Late Ballots uncounted: 10 These were deposited in the drop box in Potrero.
Rejects 16 2 signature mismatches. One signed ballot, etc.

Recall Questions Yes NoSorted ascending
Gordon Hammers 196 (70%) 84 (30%)
Mary Johnson 189 (67.5%) 91 (32.5%)
Jerry Johnson 187 (67%) 93 (33%)
Janet Wright 186 (66.4%) 94 (33.6%)
Thell Fowler 176 (62.9%) 104 (37.1%)

Replacement Questions
Seat Candidate Count
1 Terry Stephens 176  (100%)
2 Janet Goode 177  (100%)
3 Brenda Wise 68  (28.5%)
  Carl Meyer 170  (71.4%)
4 Edward Boryla 48  (21.3%)
  William Crawley 177  (78.7%)
5 Tina Mc Cunney 161  (74.5%)
  Anita Meneses 55  (25.5%)

Of course, it was of little value to count the ballots for Terry Stephens or Janet Goode, since they were the only people running. Some people tried to write in "No One" to try to leave the seat vacant.

P.S. The fact that we were able to capture the entire count on film raises an interesting question: Why not scan all ballots in every election and make them available on the internet for the public to look through? The actions of the Registrar of voters would come down to chain of custody and getting the ballots scanned. The actual counting can be handled by thousands of volunteers at home at their computers, all double checking each other. That's what I call open elections. (No more "central tabulator" dangers!)


Just wanted to let you know that we went back to the ROV at 10:30 this, morning, the time we were told they would begin the recount.  The phone number that we were given to call around 9 or 9:30 for info on the new start time was someone’s voice mail and needless to say, my call was never returned.  We went at 10:30 and found that they had started at 10:00 but Robert Pennisa (sp??) walked us back to the room where they were recounting and he stayed the entire time, sitting in a corner working on some papers.  He was very cordial and helpful.  Once we were seated in the observation area, he got busy with his work.  At one point Michael Vu (I think) came in and they talked.  Robert earlier had commented to David and I that he thought Michael Vu was a fine man.  I commented on my concerns with his actions in Cuyahoga County in the last election and Robert suddenly decided to end our conversation.

All I wanted to tell you tonight is that we were surprised to see how fast the recount went. Robert told us how long the initial count went last night, over 4 hours, and that it was difficult getting started and difficult with the large crowd of observers. We were the only ones there at the recount, and David was able to take still digital photos (for the website??) and live video.

We were told that they started at 10 am sharp and when we arrived at about 10:30 they were about ready for a 5 minute break at 50 ballots. They then did 50 more ballots and stopped for a bathroom break at about 11:00. At 11:10 they started another batch of 50 ballots, took a 5 min. stretch break and at 11:44 started another batch of 50. By shortly after 12 noon they had done 200 ballots and decided to take a lunch break, (I think that is what it was going to be??). They only had a little over 80 ballots left and since we had seen how hand counting paper ballots was done, and since we were fairly certain they had said they were going on a lunch break, we decided to leave also.

One lady said to us that the counting was going much faster today, since they all were more comfortable with what they were doing. It all went smoothly, with very few stops (about three or four stops). Each stop was for a question by one of the people counting. They recounted about 100 ballots each hour and anticipated the last 80+ ballots would take less then one hour.

David and I figured that it took about 2 ½ hours to count approx. 280 ballots, each ballot having 5 questions and each question having two items to tally ( the yes or no, and the name “To Succeed”). David figured that it took about 6 second per tally item to hand tally this recount. I don’t understand how David figured it but I figured it at about 3 seconds per tally. Either way, its DOABLE. (I figured 280 ballots with 10 tally marks each ballot = 2800 tally marks. 2 ½ hours = 150 minutes x 60 seconds = 9000 seconds. Then 9000 seconds divided by 2800 tally marks = about 3 seconds per tally mark. Does that seem right to you? Either way, 3 seconds or 6 seconds per tally mark, that isn’t bad.)

I saw from the emails today concerning last night’s count, concerns about the ballot box and the security of ballots. I’m not knowledgeable about that part of the recount but what David and I did notice, is that Hand Counting Paper ballots is NOT as impossible as we have been told. Robert Pennisa told us that HCPB takes too long and people want the results immediately. We replied that we were certain the public would prefer accuracy over speed. He just smiled. We asked him what he thought about hand counting ballots at each precinct on election night, and he said if Debra Bowen directs them to do that, then they can certainly do it, but they won’t unless she tells them they have to hand count the ballots. David and I really want to talk to Debra Bowen or at least Evan Goldberg.

We will be out of town Thurs. and Friday but back on Sat. We look forward to comparing notes on what we observed. For now, take care, and get well, Shar. And yes, we would love to do a mock recount with you in the near future. It didn’t look like it was that hard to do.
Topic revision: r3 - 2015-03-03, RaymondLutz
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