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Election official: Vote count correction changes result of Christiansburg council race

Election official: Vote count correction changes result of Christiansburg council race

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CHRISTIANSBURG — Errors made during the tabulating of early voting resulted in a change in the six-way Christiansburg Town Council race, a Montgomery County election official said on Friday.

After the errors were rectified and as absentee ballots are being finalized, Casey Jenkins moved from fourth to second in the vote count and has earned one of three council seats.

Results posted to the Virginia Department of Elections website earlier in the week showed that Anthony Woodyard had finished third in the contest and, with absentee ballots still to be counted, had won one of the three open seats.

By Friday, however, Woodyard was bumped down to fifth place, with Jenkins moving up in an otherwise tight race where no single candidate earned more than a quarter of the vote.

Tanya Hockett, who received about 23% of the vote, remained the top vote getter. Tim Wilson finished third and earned a seat, now being barely edged out by Jenkins in the vote standings.

“I’m stunned … just sort of speechless,” Jenkins said Friday night. “This was something I really wanted, but at the same time I had resigned myself to the fact it wasn’t in the cards for me.”

Jenkins, however, said he’s still not fully celebrating. He said he went to the election office earlier Friday where he learned that the results weren’t quite official yet.

“They said, ‘no we’re still counting and we probably won’t have anything finalized until early next week,” he said.

Woodyard, on the other hand, said he plans to sort the issue out early next week. He said Friday night that he had not been contacted by anyone from the registrar’s office.

“It seemed like a done deal,” he said, referring to congratulatory remarks he received during the week. “I had to seek out answers, but at this time I’ve not received any to my satisfaction on how this all played out. I’m going to continue to work on Monday to get the answers that I need to feel better about this.”

The incorrect results posted earlier in the week were due to errors made by officers of election in the central absentee precinct when it came to counting the early votes, said Richard Langford, chairman of the Montgomery County Electoral Board. The wrong numbers were then communicated to the registrar’s office, he said.

The issue, Langford said, wasn’t discovered until the post-Election Day canvassing performed by the electoral board—a process that is usually a formality but is done to ensure the correct count. The errors weren’t found and corrected until Thursday night, he said.

“Unfortunately, it resulted in a change. We certainly regret that,” Langford said. “It was a human error made on the night of elections.”

Langford said such errors can happen due to how late results are counted on election night.

“We hate that it happened,” he said.

Langford, however, said the board plans to have a meeting soon to go over the recent issue and discuss ways to reduce the chances of that mistake repeating itself in the future.

Langford said that early voting in Montgomery County involves the placing of paper ballots through optical scanners. The scanners are then shut down at the end of the night and the tapes are printed summarizing the results. Details include the total number of votes and other facts such as how many write-in votes were cast.

The board receives copies of the tapes for canvassing, Langford said. The errors occurred when the officers of election were writing and calculating the numbers from the tapes, he said.

Although his board still needs to certify the election, Langford said he expects the current results to hold.

“We think we found everything,” he said.

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