Ferg foiled again by one vote

LISBON – Longtime Hanover Township Trustee Donald “Ferg” Wilson still lost to newcomer John Zehentbauer by one vote following Wednesday’s official count, but this will trigger an automatic recount to be held Nov. 27.

Zehentbauer still led 461-460 over Wilson for the second trustee position following the official count performed by the county elections board. The official count consists of those ballots counted election night Nov. 5, plus provisional ballots, which are those cast election day but go uncounted until questions over voter eligibility are resolved.

Zehentbauer led Wilson 460-459 on election night, and seven provisional ballots cast in Hanover Township were approved for inclusion in the final count. Of those provisional ballots, one was cast for Zehentbauer and one for Wilson, resulting in the final 461-460 tally. The other provisional ballots went to the other candidates, except in the case of one provisional voter who chose to vote for only one trustee candidate instead of two.

The elections board director, Adam Booth, said the margin in the Wilson-Zehentbauer race was within the one-half of 1 percent margin that automatically requires a recount, which the board agreed to conduct at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 27.

Zehentbauer, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, wondered how that worked and was told the board would pick a township precinct representing at least 5 percent of the votes cast and count those ballots by hand to determine if they match the totals reported by the ballot-counting machine.

“I don’t think it’s ever changed in the six years I’ve been here,” board president Patty Colian said of the outcome following a recount.

“No Jeb Bush?” Zehentbauer asked, referring to the governor of Florida during the closely contested 2000 presidential race between his brother, George W. Bush, and Al Gore.

“No, no hanging chads or anything like that,” joked board member David Johnson.

Booth said the none of the outcomes of the other candidate races or ballot issues changed as a result of the official count, although there will likely be an automatic recount in the race for the third seat on the West Branch school board.