What does a recount take?

District D race reported in recount territory

Two weeks after the Nov. 6 elections, the likelihood of automatic ballot recount for the District D council seat in Morgan Hill grew and a local school board seat inched closer to recount territory, according to elections officials.

The last piles of mailed and provisional ballots were still being counted on Nov. 19, when the margin separating the two District D candidates was 18 votes, which would trigger an automatic manual recount if that number held.

The margin of votes between John McKay and Julie Hutcheson changed at every twice-daily update from the Santa Clara Registrar of Voters through Nov. 19.

If the final margin of victory is less than 25 votes, or less than 0.25 percent of the ballots cast, an automatic manual recount is required, according to the county’s updated 2018 election policy.

As of Monday Nov. 19, McKay held a 18-vote edge over Hutcheson. On election night, Hutcheson had an 18-vote lead over McKay, until provisional ballots and late-returning vote-by-mail ballots began to be counted. A few days later, the roles were reversed, with McKay’s margin growing to 26 votes then coming back down to 18.

The race for Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Area 2 also remained close two weeks after the election. As of Nov. 19 John T. Horner led Tara Bevington by only 26 votes, or 0.78 percent. Horner’s lead over Bevington has continued to narrow since the ballot counting started Nov. 6. Both Horner (1,253 votes) and Bevington (1,227 votes) hold a comfortable lead over fellow candidates Enrique Navarro-Donnellan and James B. Dill.

The automatic recount policy was amended by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2018. It applies to all elections that take place in the county, excluding San Jose, which would use a machine to process the recount.

As of Nov. 19, 93 percent of the ballots had been counted in Santa Clara County, according to the registrar of voters. With this percentage of votes in, McKay and Hutcheson were within the margin for a recount.

The original county recount policy was created in 2016 by the Board of Supervisors, and according to Wendy Hudson of the county registrar of voters, it has been used 11 times since its adoption. Hudson told the Times that in each recount the originally reported winner once again came out ahead.

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