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Recount will be next week
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Forsyth County News

It's official. Julie Tressler has asked for a recount of the Aug. 5 runoff election results.

Tressler came up 30 votes short to Jim Boff in their race for the District 5 seat on the Forsyth County commission. State law allows a candidate to request a recount if the vote was decided by less than 1 percent.

After results were certified Friday, Boff officially received 50.24 percent of the vote, compared to Tressler's 49.76 percent.

But of the 6,288 Republican ballots cast, 33 were left blank in the race for the commission district, which covers Cumming and much of eastern Forsyth.

Chief Voter Registrar Gary J. Smith said ballots left blank in a race is a common occurrence, citing 607 ballots submitted with no selection for either clerk of court candidate.

Smith, reached by phone Tuesday while on vacation, said the recount will be held sometime next week.

"Most of my staff is on vacation this week, so I don't have the people I would need to be able to do it now," he said. "This was one week we thought we were going to be able to have time for vacations before we had to do things to get ready for the November election."

In an e-mail Tuesday from Tressler's campaign, consultant Joshua Jones wrote that Georgia law "clearly states that if there are more irregular votes than the margin, you are obligated under law to hold a new election."

While the definition of irregular is broad, Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, said there is "nothing in the Georgia election code that says that an 'undervote' [or ballot where not all races have been voted on] would spoil a ballot."

"For that particular reason, it would not require another election," he said.

Carrothers said it would be a hypothetical situation to assume blank ballots were submitted.

Tressler, however, contends there were "39 cards that went into a machine" with no selections made.

"It may be something we're reading incorrectly," she said. "But that is the number that several different people have come up with ... it's not about voting in one race and not voting in another."

Tressler said she's "not challenging the election."

"There are just unanswered questions at this point," she said. "I'm just trying to get questions answered ... [a recount] is just the next step."

Smith said the recount would be conducted according to standard state procedures, which essentially is setting up "the same process we had for election night," he said.

All valid ballots were recorded to memory cards, which will be read and uploaded to the main server, which will then recalculate the totals.

"It's not a complicated process," Smith said. "But we will work to make sure we have all the things put together so we can do a proper recount."

Boff, who has already declared victory, could not be reached Tuesday or Wednesday.