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City council vote likely headed for recount

Every vote counts, and the razor-thin unofficial results for the Wadena City Council race underscored that.

Unofficial Wadena City Council tallies place incumbent Toby Pierce ahead of Gillette Kempf 740 to 736 in the three-way race for two seats. Incumbent Jeanette Baymler secured her place with 817 votes, and there were 23 write-ins.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said that Kempf is aiming for a recount, and after the canvassing board makes the results official several days after the election, Kempf may make the official recount request. Since it was so close, a requested recount will go through.

Swenson said that the difference between the Election Day count and a recount is that the former is counted by machines, and the latter is done by hand.

"You take all the ballots and you manually count them," he said. "You look at all the votes and all the absentee votes and see if there are any discrepancies."

He said that on election day, the voting machines automatically count the ballots as they are inserted into the slot. The machine prints out a report at the end.

Swenson said the infamous hanging chads of Florida in 2000 would not be an issue in Wadena's election day votes because of the voting machines.

"If the machine rejects them, the people have a chance to fix them," he said. "The last election between Franken and Coleman, the big issue was absentee ballots where they interpreted them one way or the other. That's probably the place that there could be something, if anything. But it's hard to say until we do it and see the ballots."

Swenson said that Wadena and Otter Tail counties handled the absentee ballots.

"The counties did those and they ran them through the electronic process also. But before they did that, they had to open them all and make sure that they were done properly, that they had the correct signatures and the correct verifications," he said. "So I just got the numbers for the absentee from them."

Swenson said that he would put the election canvassing on the agenda for the regular city council meeting on Tuesday.