House District 24 Recount Confirms Newsome’s Victory

House District 24 Recount Confirms Newsome’s Victory Over Webber

Written by on August 29, 2022

A recount of the House District 24 race was held this morning in the Park County Elections Office in what was an extremely close contest between incumbent Sandy Newsome and Nina Webber. During Park County’s recent primary elections this August, no ballots were rejected or unreadable, according to First Deputy Park County Clerk Hans Odde and Elections Deputy Katie Johnson.

Park County Election Deputies Hans Odde and Katie Johnson

As Odde and Johnson fed the DS450 voting machine batches of ballots (around 50-100 ballots at a time), the machine did experience a few technical difficulties, but these were easily resolved.

Odde was asked by a person attending the recount about absentee ballots in Park County. “No absentees in Wyoming are ever sent out without an actual request. So, we do not carte blanche send absentees to anyone without their specific request. They can come in and request in person, they can email us, and they can call us,” Odde says.

The DS450 images every ballot, “If we have to go back and adjudicate ballots, we can pull up the image of the ballot or write-in. Write-ins only get counted if the oval on the sheet is filled in,” Odde says.

Ballot lines with overvotes (too many ovals on the ballot filled in) are not counted per state rules. “In the County Commissioner race, for example, there were a lot of overvotes because people filled in multiple ovals and didn’t read the sheet correctly,” Odde explains.

Even ballots with overvotes are run through the machine during a recount because all ballots are required to be run. Ballots are required by state law to be kept for “22 months” after an election.

On occasion, the machine would jam, or a batch of ballots would have to be rerun if the machine accidentally pulled two ballots at once. The DS450 has safeguards, however, that help prevent a miscount as it alerts election officials to any jams, errors, incorrect pulls, or unreadable ballots.

The machine had three to four light jams during its recount of House District 24’s 3,747 ballots. Again, these issues were easily resolved with batch reruns.

Voting machines cannot be connected to the internet, and the DS450 does not have the capability to connect to the web. The state of Wyoming does not use any Dominion voting machines. Wyoming chose a company called ES&S, or Election Systems and Software, to provide the state with its voting machines and equipment through a vetting process handled in coordination with the Secretary of State.

Three people attended the recount, including Leo Wolfson of Cowboy State Daily in addition to Newsome and Webber.

Ballots from the initial primary election totaled 3,747. The August 16th primary had Newsome at 1,810 votes and Webber at 1,727 votes.

Results of the August 29th House District 24 Recount

Total ballots: 3,747

Sandy Newsome: 1,810

Nina Webber: 1,727

There were 19 write-in ballots cast, 5 overvotes, and 186 undervotes. All required parties signed a document certifying the recount, which included Park County Election Deputies, the County Clerk, Nina Webber, and Sandy Newsome.

According to the Park County Elections Office, the county spent “$751.35 of employee time on the recount.” Since the winner of the House District 24 race remains the same, Webber will be responsible for paying the first “$500 worth of costs,” which will be drawn from a deposit she posted with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office last week. The county will be responsible for the other $250, Park County Election officials state.

“We’re very pleased that the recount confirmed the initial results,” Park County Clerk Colleen Renner says. “We hope it gives the public additional confidence in our elections here in Wyoming.”

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