• 72°

Hart mulls school race vote recount

A tight school board race that was decided by only seven votesin the general election Tuesday may be getting a second look.

Johnny Hart, who represents the Lincoln County School District’ssecond district, said Thursday he is still debating whether he willseek a recount after losing to challenger Stacey Newell. Hartserved one term.

“I’m still undecided,” Hart said. “We may go back and look atthe absentee and affidavit ballots – those that were enteredmanually – to look for errors.”

Hart said he probably would not demand a full recount even if hedoes request those ballots recounted.

“There’s not much margin for error on those machines,” he said.”I really don’t expect it to change much, but with a vote thisclose I believe it deserves a second look.”

Newell defeated Hart on a 371-364 vote. The school’s seconddistrict includes six precincts covering portions of Loyd Star andEnterprise.

The law gives Hart 10 days to contest the election, said LincolnCounty Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins.

She estimated it would take “the better part of a day” for afull recount and much less to recount only absentee and affidavitballots.

Hart said he is undecided about challenging because he doesn’twant to create strife in the district, and because – should he notreturn to office – he believes Newell would make a good addition tothe board.

“Every decision we make is not popular, but that doesn’t meanit’s not the right thing. I’m proud of my service,” Hart said. “Iwant the best for the district – whoever that may be.”

Lincoln County’s second school district is a split district,which means several precincts are divided with some voting in theschool district and others not voting in the district, Watkinssaid.

“A split precinct can have more than one type of ballot,” shesaid. “There’s no way to check to see if a particular voterreceived the right ballot at this point. That’s where the pollworkers play a very important role. They have to ensure the votergets the right ballot.”

Watkins said she has heard no complaints from voters that theyreceived the wrong ballot in those precincts.

“As far as I knew the voters were given the right ballots,” shesaid. “In the poll workers’ defense , I must say there are someerrors in the poll books.

“There are things, like addresses, that are entered when peopleregistered,” she continued. “We don’t know there’s a been a changeto create a problem until someone brings it to our attention.”