Every vote counts. You don’t think your vote counts? You are dead wrong.

Just finished participating in a recount today.  Was not exactly fun, but I got to spend some time with some fine citizens and to do something that matters.

Republican Del. Timothy D. Hugo’s 106-vote lead over Democratic challenger Donte Tanner fell only slightly to 99 votes during a recount this week, giving the GOP the first win in a series of four recounts that will decide control of the House of Delegates.
The Fairfax County registrar’s office announced the results of the 40th District recount Thursday.
Final 1:50pm HD 40 Update: recount is finished. Tanner +14 and Hugo +7. Gives Hugo +99 over Tanner ( had been +106). Recount court to certify results. (from here)

How did this work? Well, I can only speak as a volunteer about what I saw the last couple of days. Last week I got a call from one of the people who works for Delegate Hugo. The lady asked me to serve as a recount official. What she was doing was calling Republicans who serve as election officials and asking them to help out in the recount. In addition, she was looking for Republicans willing to serve as observers. Of course, the Democratic challenger, Donte Tanner, had his people doing the same thing. The goal was to assemble a bunch of 4-person teams, a Republican recount official, a Republican observer, a Democratic recount official, and a Democratic observer, to recount the vote. So that is what both candidates were doing.

One thing that surprised me about the process is that I got a court summons. When you volunteer to be a recount official, you have become part of a court proceeding. So don’t volunteer halfheartedly. Once you say yes a judge will ask you to explain if you don’t show up.

On Wednesday, 13 December, I showed up at the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Fairfax County. They then took us down to a Jury Assembly Room (never did figure out how they assemble jurors (stole that joke)).  Since the 40th District House of Delegates is split between Fairfax and Prince William Counties (two third of the voters in Fairfax County), Fairfax County took the lead role. So Fairfax County provided Prince William County’s recount team a Jury Assembly Room on the 5th floor, and the  Fairfax County team operated out of a Jury Assembly Room on the 4th floor.

What did the Prince William County team do? Well,  Prince William County has an Office of Elections (very competent bunch), but they don’t do all of the work. The Office of Elections, provides expertise and leads the process, but ordinary citizen volunteers do the work. The work of ordinary citizen volunteers is critical. These people provide verification that the process is honest. Thus, I found myself working with personnel from from the Office of Elections and with both Democrat and Republican volunteers, all conscientiously trying to do a good job.

What did we do? Mostly we just fed paper ballots into the same scanners we use on election day. When people vote in Prince William County, election officials first verify they are registered to vote and that they are at the correct precinct. Then the election official gives the voter a paper ballot. After the voter fills out the ballot (filling in the box next to their candidate’s name), the voter then takes their ballot and feeds it into a scanner. That scanner then records their vote and drops their ballot into a box for safekeeping in the event a recount is necessary.

So it is that on December 13th recount officials were feeding paper ballots from all of the voting precincts in the 40th District House of Delegates in Prince William County. In addition, we were scanning absentee ballots and hand-counting provisional ballots.

What was a little complicated about the process?

  • Sometimes the scanners cannot read the ballots. If the ballot is torn or it has stray marks on it, that’s a problem. After an election the ballots have to be packed up and stored. So manual handling cannot be avoided, and a few ballots will be damaged.
  • The scanners were also set to reject any ballots that we suspected that they might have trouble reading. Voters have the option of not voting in a race, or they may choose to vote for two people in the same race. The scanner will let them know if they have voted for two candidates, but they can cast their vote anyway. Nevertheless, we manually verified that the scanner properly read the ballot.

Fortunately, the ballots were in good condition and very few were rejected. So the recount changed the results just a little bit without changing the overall result. Therefore, today, on Thursday, December 14, we finished the recount. Thereafter, the recount coordinators combined the results of Fairfax County’s and Prince William County’s recount. Finally, a three-judge panel reviewed the results and declared Del. Hugo the winner.

Note that there are three other recounts in progress.  In one of them the candidates are only separated by 10 votes. So it is quite possible that seat could change. If that happens, the Virginia House of Delegates will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Not good!

Anyway, let’s close this with a couple of questions.

  • Are you a Republican? Did you vote in the last election? Then consider the problems your dereliction of duty has wrought.
  • Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity? Every year we have elections in Virginia. So the Office of Elections is always looking for people to volunteer to be Election Officers. If you have the time, please consider volunteering. Note that the Office of Elections needs more Republicans to volunteer. I don’t know why, but this is one thing Democrats volunteer to do more than Republicans.


10 thoughts on “EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

  1. I was starting to worry about your health, while at the same time you were worried about the health of your voting district.

    Good job, Interesting how votes are tallied.

    Now if only voters were required to show picture I d before they vote. But that is getting too wise a thought for certain legislators to discern.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Much more complicated than I ever imagined…but then again this is governmental work so why am I surprised….
    And I would imagine each state’s process slightly different given the type of electronic voting machines provided.
    Atlanta’s mayor’s race is still unofficial as 1000 votes separate these two ladies—so there was one recount and now there is to an “official” tax paid recount….
    And whereas these recounts don’t ever really seem to alter the results…I am reminded at just how evenly split this Country seems to remain….look at Alabama—a neck and neck race….
    I don’t know the answer.
    We have those who won’t vote, those who let the dead vote, illegal immigrants who vote and those who vote multiple times under various aliases….

    And then there are folks like you Tom and your fellow counters, both Dem and Rep—-who roll up their sleeves to do justice to the process and to do it to the utmost of their ability—no matter the outcome—so that does demonstrate that there are good folks still trying to do the right things—which is a comfort in the middle of all the madness!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Julie (aka Cookie)

      Complicated? Can be. Takes work to keep things simple. Sometimes people try too hard to make things more “perfect” than they need to be. Makes lawyers happy.

      What most people don’t seem to get is that a republic requires volunteers. If we want to be a free people, we must work for it.

      The price of freedom involves more than just vigilance; it involves labor. We must learn how our government is supposed to work. We must participate in the election of our officials. We must hold everyone, especially our officials, accountable to the law. If not enough of us work to be free, then self selected elites can and will seize power over us. In effect, because we are not willing to labor for freedom, we no longer deserve to be free.

      To be free, we must earn the privilege. We can speak of rights all we want, but in practice we have to work to protect each others rights. In practice, we earn the great privilege of freedom by loving each other enough to protect each others rights.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea about all that was involved. I have a whole new appreciation after reading your post! Sounds exhausting, though. Thank you for giving of your time! What a tremendous gift to all of us it is!


    1. Thank you.

      I had only a small part. The heroes and heroines put the thing together and stepped forward to provide leadership. All I can claim to be is an acceptable follower. However, where no one is willing to follow or lead, little worthwhile gets done.


    1. The worst part of it was getting up early and driving on I-66 towards DC. Otherwise, just have to pay attention and get the job done.

      I suspect the people managing the process were, tired, especially the lady who manages the Office of Elections. She had to get a bunch of people and equipment into Fairfax County; make certain that equipment was secure, coordinate with the lawyers, the candidates and the judges; manage a bunch volunteers; report her results, and take everything back to Prince William County.

      Liked by 1 person

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