WAYNESBURG – A recount of Center Township supervisor’s race, conducted for several hours Wednesday afternoon in Greene County Courthouse, confirmed Harry Gillispie defeated incumbent Seann McCollum.
Greene County officials also said it confirmed their confidence in the electronic voting machines the county has used for more than a decade.
The recount and a more robust test of the three voting machines stationed in Center Township’s precinct returned identical results as the Nov. 7 election, showing Gillispie beat McCollum by 12 votes.
“I think it puts any questions to rest. The machines were proven to be accurate,” county Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall said after witnessing the recount. “The machines worked as they’re supposed to.”
The recount conducted by the elections staff before Greene County President Judge Farley Toothman was needed after one voter in Center Township complained her vote appeared to be cast for the wrong candidate in the supervisor’s race. The woman notified the elections office staff, prompting Scott Kelley, who manages the voting machines, to go to the precinct and recalibrate the three machines.
Kelley said it’s not unusual for some voting machines to be slightly out of calibration, meaning the place where a voter touches on the screen is not as precise as it should be. Those problems can be easily corrected with the recalibration, Kelley said.
However, five electors represented by attorney David Montgomery challenged the Center Township supervisor results, necessitating the recount.
A recount of the vote totals stored inside the three voting machines produced identical results as election night and the follow-up canvass performed by the elections office staff a few days later. But Montgomery insisted the three voting machines be “cleared and tested” again to show the votes went to the correct candidates.
Kelley said it was the first time a recount has been requested for a local race since these voting machines went into service in 2006, raising questions about how far the county should go with testing. Toothman ruled the mere tabulation of the race’s numbers was insufficient and ordered 50 test votes be taken on each machine, giving 25 votes to both candidates.
“A recount is not just a relook at the summary,” Toothman said. “If we’re going to have a recount, let’s have a recount.”
Marshall, county Republican committee Chairman Greg Hopkins and court administrator Sheila Rode performed the test run on each machine. The test returned the expected results, confirming the machines were tabulating the votes correctly.
Toothman ruled the election results were correct and the elections board is expected to certify the results next week. One of those board members, Greene County Commissioner Blair Zimmerman, said he always had confidence in the machines, but this recount should ease the minds of voters.
“It came out perfect. I’m very pleased,” Zimmerman said. “It should put any questions to rest.”