Gale Courcelle widened her lead over Doug Gage to two votes during the recount Monday, but the election may not be over yet.
Recounts in Rutland districts 1-2, 5-3 and 5-4 each upheld the results from Election Day, but Rutland County Republican Chairman Bradford Broyles said a misplaced ballot in the race between Courcelle and Gage raised questions that could lead to more counting.
The recount at the Rutland civil courthouse started shortly after 9 a.m. and ran until shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Courcelle, the Democratic incumbent in District 5-4, beat Republic challenger Gage by a single vote on Election Day, 650-649. At the close of the recount Monday, County Clerk Teri Corsones announced a final tally of 650 for Courcelle and 648 for Gage.
Corsones also said a ballot from that district was found in one of the ballot bags for Rutland District 5-3, where Democrat Herb Font-Russell edged out Republican Carl Haas 454-437. The District 5-3 count remained unchanged.
Corsones said the misplaced ballot was a vote for Gage, but that it was not counted because it was not in the appropriate bag.
“It’s not clear it was properly accounted for in the counting process,” Corsones said. “Given the two-vote differential in the recount, it would not have changed the outcome.”
Broyles asked Corsones how Gage lost a vote.
“That’s what happens in a recount,” Corsones said. “It’s kind of impossible to know.”
Broyles said he intended to ask that the ballot bags for the other two Rutland districts be opened, and Corsones said Gage could submit that request in writing to Judge Mary Teachout in the morning.
“If there’s a vote for Doug in 5-3, maybe there’s other ballots that might have been misdirected,” he said.
Gage congratulated Courcelle and shook her hand after the result was announced, and had departed the courthouse when Broyles made his request. Reached later, Gage said he was not sure if he wanted to challenge the recount, but that opening the other ballot bags seemed like a reasonable step to take.
Courcelle, who also left shortly after the results were announced, expressing relief, could not be reached early Monday evening.
While all the totals changed in the Rutland District 1-2 race, they did not move enough to change the results, with Democratic Rep. David Potter of Clarendon returning to the Legislature and Republican Thomas Burditt joining him. The district also includes Proctor, West Rutland and part of Ira.
Potter went from 1,190 votes to 1,196 while Burditt dropped one, from 1,137 to 1,136. Republican Richard Norris picked up two votes, going from 1,110 to 1,112 and Democrat Tony Morgan picked up five, going from 854 to 849.
Norris had requested the recount, though if the result had changed he would have most likely displaced fellow Republican Burditt.