County recount benefits James

Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tim James spent $3,000 for a recount in Chilton County and gained three votes.

James, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, asked for a recount of primary election ballots from all 67 Alabama counties.

Chilton County on Wednesday conducted its recount, which saw two votes added to James’ official tally and one vote taken away from Robert Bentley, who finished second in the June 1 primary election by 167 votes over James and earned the right to a runoff with the top vote getter, Bradley Byrne.

The county’s vote now stands at 2,831 for James and 1,980 for Bentley.

Martin said some ballots that were originally read incorrectly by the voting machines wouldn’t run through the machines on Wednesday and so had to be counted by hand.

The reversal of three ballots is similar to what happened the last time Chilton County went through a recount. Two ballots cast in the 2006 race for county sheriff were reversed after a recount.

If all Alabama counties go the way of Chilton, with James gaining votes, the primary result could change. Most counties should have finished their recounts Wednesday, but some counties won’t finish until the weekend.

“I do not want to win this race unless I have received the most votes. That means that every vote must be counted as this recount takes its course,” James said in a news release. “We are in uncharted waters with this process as it unfolds. But, I am impressed with the competence and perseverance of those who are working to make this exercise in democracy a success.”

The recount in Chilton County cost James $3,000, Probate Judge Bobby Martin said, which included expenses associated with voting machines and compensation for seven poll workers, who sifted through about 7,000 ballots on Wednesday in a cramped room on the third floor of the Chilton County Courthouse.

One inspector, two representatives from the Chilton County Republican Party and one poll watcher from the Bentley campaign were on hand for the recount.

Martin said the workers were sworn in about 8 a.m., and the recount was completed at about 1:30 p.m.

“I had some hardworking people up there today,” Martin said. “They didn’t let any grass grow under their feet. We’re getting pretty good at recounts.”

James encouraged Alabamians to volunteer to help with the recount, which could have saved James some money, but Martin said he wanted only certified, experienced poll workers conducting the recount.

“I don’t want to have to get somebody up there and have to explain the ‘who’ and the ‘what,’” Martin said. “Every one of those people that was up there today has been involved with several elections. I felt safer with it.”