The Walsh County election canvassing board spent more than seven hours Tuesday without successfully finding the source of a 301-vote discrepancy in the Nov. 6 general election. That is, there were 4,603 people that voted, but the tally came to 4,904 votes. The board was still working, with no decision, late Tuesday evening. It’s possible, but officials believe unlikely, that one Walsh County Commission seat may hang in the balance.
Incumbent County Commissioner Lawrence Burianek lost to challenger Karen Anderson by 85 votes and to incumbent Jack Karas by 99 votes. The top two vote-getters are elected to four-year terms.
The current official election results, which were certified by the county canvassing board in November, were: Karas, 2,681; Anderson, 2,667; and Burianek, 2,582.
“When you leave here, you want to be confident that the results are correct,” North Dakota Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said.
The canvassing board included Walsh County officials, as well as a Democratic and Republican representative each from legislative districts 10 and 19, which encompass Walsh County.
The working theory is that it was an unintentional error that resulted when some ballots were tabulated twice, Silrum said. He and other officials from the secretary of state’s office reviewed election procedures and offered guidance throughout the day.
The error is believed to have occurred as a result of a ballot shortage on election day in Grafton. To correct the shortage, officials photocopied 300 blank ballots to distribute to voters.