Oregon election officials began tallying 1.5 million ballots by hand Tuesday, kicking off an automatic recount of a ballot measure that would require labels on genetically modified foods. Workers have until Dec. 12 to finish the recount, though some of the smaller counties expect to wrap up quickly. The first tally showed Measure 92 was defeated by less than a tenth of a percentage point — 812 votes — following the most expensive campaign in state history. Advocates on both sides of the issue spent nearly $30 million combined. The recount is conducted by four-person “counting boards” appointed by the county clerk. The counters must be registered Oregon voters, and no two of them can be members of the same political party. One voter for and one against are allowed to observe.
In Lane County, the recounting is to begin Thursday and is expected to take about five days to hand-count more than 150,000 ballots. A total of 11 teams will take part in the counting.
Statewide, “our intent is to make sure that every valid ballot is counted,” said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the measure’s proponents.
The observers monitor the count and call into campaign officials if they spot problems, Kaushik said. Their level of access varies from county to county, with some counties requiring observers to watch on a television screen or from a window while others allow them to be close to the counting board, he said.