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Recount for 15th congressional district begins

The recount for the 15th Congressional District race started Tuesday this morning. While the counting appears to be uneventful, it's a slow going, tedious process.

The Franklin County Board of Elections has what it calls a counting warehouse on Alum Creek Drive. It's the site of the nation's first automatic recount using the voter verified paper audit trail. For voters who cast an electronic ballot on Election Day, the votes were printed onto a spool of paper, which serves as the permanent ballot. And it's those paper tapes that the board of elections is using in the hand tally part of recount. Franklin County Board of Elections director, Matt Damschroder.

"So as they kind of spool from one reel to a take-up reel, a republican and a democrat inspect the ballot to determine if the ballot reads: Kilroy, Pryce or is a write-in. And another team of republicans and democrats actually do the tally, recording on a tally sheet the number of votes," Damschroder said.

Once a spool is hand counted, the tally has to match up with the electronic tally. Terry Casey is a consultant working for the Pryce campaign and is observing the recount. Casey said he saw one incident when the tallies did not match.

"People were going through the tapes. They went through it twice they didn't get it to match. But then they went through a third time and they found out there was a case where a voter had voted one way, then they changed their mind, then came back again. And as you're looking through these tapes manually it's hard to always make sure you have the last vote," Casey said. Casey said other than that incident, he says the recount is going smoothly. - While it may be going smoothly, it's moving slowly. Volunteers have about 50 randomly selected precincts to hand count. That's almost 14,600 votes. Damschroder said the counting could go into next week.

"It is slow going obviously because we're looking at 300 foot long paper tapes in order to discern the votes of 80 people. So it is a long process and it will take at least through this weekend," Damschroder said.

Damschroder said once it's determined the paper tapes match the official random selection, then every precinct's summary will be used to come up with a final number for the 15th Congressional race.

Hadley Birkett, a Kilroy campaign recount observer, said she has not witnessed any problems. Birkett gave a glimpse at how some Kilroy supporters may be feeling.

"At this point we just want closure, I think, more than anything," Birkett said.

Congresswoman Deborah Pryce leads her democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy by 1,055 votes. Pryce was named the winner of the race last week, but the narrow margin mandated the recount. Absentee and provisional ballots are being counted at the Board of Elections in downtown. The recount has to be complete by December 15.