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Utah Election Workers Labor to Tweeze Out a Fair Count

November 09, 1996|Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Election workers began a painstaking recount Friday of 287,580 ballots using their fingernails and tweezers.

The recount was undertaken in Salt Lake County after it was discovered that some of the punch-card ballots were not punched all the way through when voters poked them with a stylus. As a result, a scanner used to read the ballots did not record the votes.

Election workers had to examine each ballot, pull out the tiny pieces of paper still hanging from the punched holes and feed the ballots through a scanner again. "It's a very slow process, very tedious," County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said.

The recount is not expected to affect any major races, the closest of which was the congressional contest in which Democratic Rep. Bill Orton was unseated by a 9,707-vote margin. Election workers were finding that maybe 1% to 1.5% of the ballots were defective.

The 32 election judges worked in pairs to inspect each ballot. And they pulled out the chads only when both agreed it was clear what the voter intended. Armed deputies stood at the doors.

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