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Election recount reveals ballot scanner malfunctions in Provo District 1 race

PROVO — Paper ballots in the Municipal Council District 1 race will be counted by hand Wednesday because of a technical problem that may have resulted in a miscount in a very close race.

The unofficial vote tally after Election Day separated winner Gary Winterton from Bonnie Morrow by just nine votes — 804 to 795. Morrow asked for a recount, which was taking place Tuesday when county election officials concluded they had machine problems.

"The numbers were varying too much," said Utah County Chief Deputy Clerk/Auditor Scott Hogensen. "It became obvious the machines weren't counting things correctly."

The county was bringing in technical support from the machines' vendor, Dominion Voting Systems. The scanners read paper ballots and feed results into computer software that totals the results.

Utah County Clerk/Auditor Bryan E. Thompson said late Tuesday it wasn't yet known whether the scanners themselves malfunctioned or whether the tallying software is to blame. He said the candidates are being invited to observe the hand recount Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Winterton said he has been tracking the recount process and was aware the county had found a problem with vote tallying. "We thought we would be done with all of this Nov. 9," he said.

Morrow said she asked for the recount to be done by hand in the first place but the request was denied. She said she was told she came out the winner during a recount Tuesday morning, and plans to be present when the ballots are again counted by hand Wednesday morning.

"We're doing recounts of recounts of recounts. I just want to make sure the law is followed," Morrorw said, saying Tuesday's events have shaken her confidence in the process.

Hogensen said the county does not believe machine malfunctions affect the outcome of any other races in the county. Thompson said the county's focus is on the District 1 race because that's where the recount was requested, but he left open the possibility a tallying problem could affect totals in other Provo races.

"Some totals could change," Thompson said. "If there are any questions, we'll be above board and transparent to make sure everybody has confidence in the outcome."

Steve Fidel

Twitter: SteveFidel