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Franklin County vote recount complete, results to be released Wednesday

A recount of the presidential vote in Franklin County was completed Tuesday night. Officials with the Board of Elections completed the recount Tuesday night, but witheld the final tally until Wednesday. They don't expect a change in the results.

The staff of the Franklin County Board of elections appeared to follow state recount procedures carefully. Provisional and absentee ballots were cast using punch cards, so they required a partial hand-recount. 1,800 of those ballots, a random sample, were counted manually. 5 teams of counters sat at tables in the elections board office examining each ballot.

There were 2 elections board staff members on each team, one Republican, one Democrat. And each team also had 3 monitors, a Democrat, a Republican and a Green Party representative.

When the hand count was completed they took the ballots to a mechanical tabulator.

The ballots flew from one compartment in the tabulator to another as the machine rapidly counted each vote.

When it was done elections board staffer Karen Cotton read the results and the mechanical count exactly matched the hand count, so the remaining 58,000 or so punch card ballots were counted using the tabulator.

Kerry campaign volunteer Molly Hastings also came out to monitor the count. She is concerned about the distribution of voting machines and long lines on election day and felt it was important to be there for the recount.

The recount procedure was different for the nearly half-million votes cast on electronic voting machines. The votes from electronic voting machines are stored on cartridges about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

Elections board staff set up a test cartridge to show the people monitoring the recount that the computer was reading the right numbers. Then all 2,818 cartridges used on election day were scanned-in one more time.

Elections Board director Matthew Damshroder says he hopes this process will settle any outstanding concerns about the results of the election.

Ohio Republican Party Attorney Mark Weaver dropped by the elections board office to watch the process for a few minutes. He says the recount is a total waste of time and money. Statewide, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell estimates the recount will cost $1.5 million.

Under Ohio law, the candidates requesting a recount only had to pay $113,000. In Franklin County elections director Damshroder says the recount is being handled by county employees during regular business hours so there won't be any additional expense to the county.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.