With the outcome of at least one Vermont House race still unclear, and another recount having taken longer than expected, officials from both parties have questioned a 2014 law that requires machines to be used in the process. State officials say they’ll review details associated with the recounts, but that the basic concept of machine-tabulated recounts is still superior to counting votes by hand. “We do acknowledge … that better, clearer procedures need to be put in place to bring consistency and order to the process,” William Senning, director of elections for the Secretary of State’s Office, said on Wednesday. “We intend to adopt administrative rules before the next election cycle which will clarify the procedure.” … In order to prevail, both incumbents will need to argue that there were flaws in the recount process, which took place under a recently passed law requiring the use of vote tabulation machines.
Before the change was signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin in May 2014, recounts could be conducted by hand, but the amended law now requires that during a recount, vote tabulators — a boxy machine that scans votes on paper and generates vote tallies automatically — be used instead of a vote count.
The bill, which was introduced in 2013 by state Sen. Jeanette White, D-Putney, contained a host of changes to Vermont’s election laws, including the imposition of higher penalties for ballot tampering, and tweaks to the way lobbying activity is reported and elections are warned.
In 2014, it sailed through the Senate on a unanimous vote, and through the House on a voice vote. Both Davis and Buxton said they believe they voted in favor of the bill. Supporters had cited studies that showed machine counts are more accurate than hand counts.