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State orders recount of District 21 race
Ken Haar (left) and James Jeffers

The state canvassing board on Monday afternoon ordered a recount of votes in the Legislature’s District 21 race between Ken Haar and James Arthur Jeffers.

Neal Erickson, deputy secretary of state for elections, said an automatic recount is required by state law in races in which more than 500 votes were cast and the margin of difference in the votes is less than 1 percent of those received by the top vote getter.

In the case of District 21, Haar received 7,806 votes and Jeffers 7,785, a difference of 21 votes. Haar won Lancaster County by 78 votes. Jeffers won Saunders County by 57 votes.

The recount will be done Wednesday in Lancaster and Saunders counties, beginning at 9 a.m. Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively said the recount in Lincoln will take about four hours. Dee Anne Nice, deputy Saunders County clerk, said the recount there will take an hour or two.

The Canvassing Board — state Auditor Mike Foley, Treasurer Shane Osborn, Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy and Secretary of State John Gale — also ordered a recount in the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District directors race of Subdistrict 3. In that race, Ted Bailey received 8,359 votes and William Taylor 8,399. Saunders County is also involved in that recount, said County Clerk and Election Commissioner Patti Lindgren.

Gale also asked about another legislative race that got some attention because the votes were close. In District 27, between candidates Colby Coash and Dan Marvin, the margin was 79 votes, Erickson said. The margin required for an automatic recount was 71.5.

The board discussed a couple of other glitches in the race. In Furnas County, the Educational Service Unit 11 race was left off the ballot, but it did not affect the outcome of the race because candidate Ron Schoneberg was running uncontested. He received votes in Frontier, Gosper, and Red Willow counties. The omission had to do with a new election format ESUs used this year for the first time in dividing races into subdistricts, Erickson said. Everyone adapted to it, except Furnas County, he said.

The other ballot error was in Sarpy County, on Initiative 424, a constitutional ban on racial and gender preferences in public admissions and hiring decisions. In that race, the ballot asked voters to mark yes or no, instead of marking for or against. Erickson said the error had to do with relying on an online ballot development service for the language on the ballot.

“It should have been caught at the proofreading level,” he said.

But it did not affect the outcome, he reported.

At the meeting, Gale said he was pleased with the voter turnout this year. More than 1.15 million were registered to vote this year, with 814,012 voting — a record number of voters, but not the highest ever percentage of voters.

The board will not certify the election until the recounts are done. It will meet again Dec. 8.

Reach JoAnne Young at 473-7228 or

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