SPANISH FORK — The drama over the past three weeks at city halls in Spanish Fork and Goshen included close races, recounts and new winners for city councils — proof that absentee and provisional ballots can make a difference.
A recount on Tuesday in Spanish Fork ended with G. Wayne Andersen ahead of opponent Royden Hill by just 12 votes.
After Wednesday's recount in Goshen, Rex Kay edged Patricia Bergener by just two votes.
The two winners were trailing after the unofficial vote count from the Nov. 8 general election.
Provisional ballots are given to voters who arrive at a polling location and find their name is not on the voter registration list. Following the election, city and county recorders attempt to determine whether the voter was at the correct polling location. If the voter's home address matches the polling location, the vote is counted.
Hill finished two votes ahead of Andersen on election night, but when 78 provisional ballots were counted, Andersen pulled ahead by eight votes, prompting Hill to request a recount.
Kay requested a recount after losing in his political debut by one vote, 145-144. He gained an additional four votes in the recount, which included two provisional ballots, and defeated Bergener 148-146.
"It was a total surprise to me," Kay said Wednesday, adding that he expects his two-year term on the City Council to be an "exciting experience."
Kay said he was out of town on business during the election and returned to learn of the close race.
"I thought, if it's just one vote, one vote can change it one way or the other," he said on his decision to call for a recount. "I wanted to make sure we did everything we could to make sure it was correct."
In Provo, Paul Warner will finish his second term on the City Council after he lost to his opponent by less than 50 votes.
By the end of election night, Warner was behind Cindy Clark by 42 votes. Warner was hoping provisional votes would push him ahead, but Clark ultimately increased her lead to 47.
Warner opted not to request a recount and conceded.
Provisional votes did not help ballot initiatives in northern Utah County, which were all crushed except for a recreation/arts/park tax in Orem and a road bond in Provo.