One week after the 2013 municipal election, the race for two open seats on the Homer City Council was still in question. Candidate Justin Arnold called for a recount of the votes after results showed only an 11-vote difference between Bryan Zak and Corbin Arno. That recount was held Tuesday afternoon at Homer City Hall.
Three candidates for Homer City Council were in the audience for Tuesday’s recount, including Zak, Arno and Justin Arnold.
Arnold finished fourth in the race, with 292 votes, but he says the idea for a recount wasn’t about him. It’s about the accuracy of the AccuVote machine used by the city to tabulate the election results.
"Even a very well-made computer ... can make mistakes," said Arnold.
Before the recount began, Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson told Arnold that state and city law only require re-counting via the AccuVote machine and the recount board would not be conducting a hand recount. Arnold then volunteered to do a visual recount himself.
Arnold says he has done some research recently regarding AccuVote machines and he simply does not trust that they do a foolproof job.
"There have been dozens of elections where these questions have come up," he said. "So the accuracy of these machines that we trust our elections to has not been independently verified as well as I would like."
At the start of the recount, three Homer Police officers arrived at city hall and stood outside the door of council chambers. Sergeant William Hutt said officers were called there by the clerk’s office for fear that Arnold might be “creating a disturbance.” Although an initial verbal exchange between Arnold and Johnson could be described as a bit testy, Arnold was polite and soon settled into counting the ballots, a task that took him nearly two hours. The police officers soon left.
As Jacobsen opened the envelopes full of ballots and Arnold began the task of hand-counting them, the city recount board fed them into the AccuVote machine. The whole process took a couple of hours.
When the ballots for Homer Precinct Number One were all counted, Johnson read the results, which matched those of the first count, with one exception: the recount found one less vote for candidate Bryan Zak.
The process could have ended there but Arnold requested that all votes from Homer Precinct Number Two be counted, as well, along with all absentee and questioned ballots. Those numbers matched the original vote totals, making the outcome of the city council race the same – Gus Van Dyke and Bryan Zak are the winners for two open seats.
Johnson says the city council will certify the election results at its meeting Monday night.