Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Norwood squeaker recounted today

School levy passed by only four votes

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Dimples and hanging chads won't be a factor in today's recount of the Norwood school levy vote, as district officials hope to preserve their four-vote advantage.

        Hamilton County elections officials will run the 7,752 punch-card ballots from Norwood's 25 precincts through the counting machines at 9 a.m. They will also hand-count one precinct, with about 270 votes, and match it against the machine results.

        In the unofficial count on Elec tion Night, it appeared Norwood's five-year, 7.68-mill emergency school levy would go down to defeat by a 75-vote margin.

        But when election officials ran the official count last week, including voters who had cast ballots at the board of elections and absentee ballots received after the Nov. 7 election, the levy was ahead by four votes — 3,878 votes in favor and 3,874 votes against.

        Board of elections officials said 358 ballots were cast in Norwood that did not include a vote for or against the school levy, and two voters “overvoted,” punching both the “for” and “against” holes.

        Elections Director Julie Stautberg said election officials would not be scanning the “undervoted” ballots for bulges or “dimples” that might indicate the voters' intentions.

        “It's not an issue,” Ms. Stautberg said.

        Officials of the Norwood school district and the Norwood chapter of Citizens Opposed to Additional Taxes and Spending have been invited as observers to today's recount, which Ms. Stautberg said should last an hour or two.

        Ohio law mandates that any election contest where the official count shows a difference of 0.5 percent or less between the winner and loser is subject to an automatic recount.

        There were no other races in Hamilton County this year that fell under the automatic recount rule.


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