Recounts ordered in Rock Hill, Fort Mill school board races

scetrone@heraldonline.comNovember 11, 2012 

Election officials must recount votes in school board races in Rock Hill and Fort Mill before winners can be validated, York County elections director Wanda Hemphill said Sunday.

Two races are affected: the race for Bob Norwood’s open at-large seat on the Rock Hill school board and one of three seats that were up for election on the Fort Mill school board.

The recounts were triggered late Friday, after election officials finished counting provisional votes – ballots given to voters at the polls when there is a question about their eligibility to cast a vote. Those ballots are verified and counted after the election.

Once they were added, winners and losers in those two school board races were separated by less than 1 percent of the total number of votes cast.

In such cases, Hemphill said, the law requires a recount.

The final vote tally shows that Terry Hutchinson still received the most votes – 9,348 – in the four-way race for Norwood’s seat. Wayne Wingate was 90 votes behind.

Dan Ballou and Tyrie Rowell finished behind Wingate.

In total, 31,063 votes were cast in the Rock Hill race. Anything less than a difference of 311 votes between the top two candidates would trigger a recount.

Hutchinson, who has already met with Superintendent Lynn Moody for school board training, said he understands and remains optimistic.

“It’s the law,” he said. “Either I’m going to be sworn in or Wayne is going to be sworn in. We had a good race. It was good and clean between me, Wayne, Dan and Tyrie. I can’t get upset. I can just continue being nervous.”

The recount could be canceled, Hemphill said, if the candidates with fewer votes write a letter to the elections office requesting that it be stopped.

Wingate said he supports the recount.

“I’m not real optimistic,” he said. But “recounts are appropriate anytime there’s an election that close.”

Three other seats that were up for election on the Rock Hill school board are unaffected. Incumbents Ann Reid, Mildred Douglas and Walter Brown, were re-elected without opposition.

One seat in Fort Mill

In Fort Mill, seven people ran for three seats. The three candidates with the most votes were Scott Patterson, Pam Martin and Tom Audette.

Michele Branning, who received 6,747 votes, was 363 votes behind Audette.

In that race, 46,301 votes were cast. Anything less than a difference of 463 votes would trigger a recount.

“I welcome the recount because it’s such a tight race,” Branning said.

Audette said he’s fine with it.

“It’s just part of the process,” he said.

Election officials plan to hold the recount at 10 a.m. Tuesday. They hope that will leave enough time Monday to fix a ballot-counting machine that broke down before the provisional count, Hemphill said. If not, they will use a slower, back-up scanner.

The recount is likely to delay a portion of the Rock Hill school board meeting scheduled for Monday. Hutchinson was to be sworn in and the board was scheduled to elect new officers.

Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody said the board will decide how to proceed at the start of the meeting.

Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072

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