Park City primary recount: ‘Very anticlimactic. Like it’s supposed to be’
Daniel Lewis secured the sixth and final spot on the Park City Council ballot on Saturday morning as a recount requested by the seventh-place finisher, Chadwick Fairbanks III, confirmed the results of the August primary election more than two weeks after the voting.
The top five finishers were not in doubt, but a narrow margin separated Lewis and Fairbanks since the Aug. 13 primary. Fairbanks led Lewis by two votes, 167-165, after the counting on the night of the primary. That count did not include approximately 220 ballots that had not been qualified as valid or tallied at that time. The order switched after all the ballots were counted, with Lewis receiving 193 votes, two more than the 191 received by Fairbanks. The two-vote margin was narrow enough that state law allowed Fairbanks to request the recount.
None of the seven candidates’ vote totals changed as a result of the recount, which was conducted by the Summit County Clerk’s Office in Coalville. Fairbanks attended the recount while Lewis was not present. Lewis later said he worked 14 hours on Saturday and was unable to attend.
“I’m just so happy it turned out the way it did,” Lewis said, explaining that he anticipated the vote totals would not change in the recount and adding, “I was not surprised, but I was extremely relieved when the numbers came through.”
He called the stretch between the count on the day of the primary and the recount a “mini-duel” between himself and Fairbanks. Lewis said he operated the campaign since the primary as if he secured the sixth spot on the ballot that day.
“Now we can finally move on to the general election,” Lewis said.
Lewis is an event organizer who lives in Old Town and has lived in Park City for 18 years. He has been involved with events like the Park Silly Sunday Market, Park City Film and Mountain Town Music.
The recount on Saturday was a rare weekend public event inside the County Courthouse. Summit County Clerk Kent Jones conducted the work with two City Hall staffers — Assistant Park City Manager Matt Dias and Minda Stockdale, who is the deputy Park City recorder — in attendance. A Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy was present, as was a representative of the Summit County Attorney’s Office.
Jones explained the process as the ballots were recounted, appearing to be addressing Fairbanks as he spoke. Jones, in response to an inquiry by Fairbanks regarding the chain of custody of the ballots, said the recount process is standardized across Utah and said at least two people are present when the ballots move. Jones told him the staffers in his office receive extensive training. He also explained to Fairbanks the rules regarding signatures in the vote-by-mail balloting. Fairbanks sat at a table with Jones, Dias and Stockdale during the recount. Stacks of ballots were fed into the counting machine as the results were tabulated again.
Fairbanks at one point asked about whether the ballots were available to the public to review. The name of the voter by that step in the process had already been removed from the ballots. Jones, though, told Fairbanks the ballots are not available to the public.
“To maintain security, they’re not allowed for public inspection. They never have been,” Jones said.
As part of the recount, Jones inspected unopened ballots that had been disqualified for a variety of reasons to ensure they should not be counted. He said some carried postmarks that were after the deadline. In another case, the signature was written by someone with the power of attorney for the voter rather than the actual voter. Jones said the ballot was disqualified since the signatures did not match. Jones disqualified another ballot after finding the person voted for four of the City Council candidates, rather than the maximum of three. Another voter selected five candidates on their ballot while someone else cast votes for six of the seven candidates — each of the names on the ballot except Fairbanks.
“Why would they vote for four? Vote for up to three,” Jones said, explaining the instructions to voters.
The ballots that were disqualified as part of the recount were those that also would not have been accepted as part of the original count.
The recount lasted approximately two hours and ended without issue.
“Very anticlimactic. Like it’s supposed to be,” Fairbanks said.
The primary election results:
1. Incumbent City Councilor Nann Worel, 1,090 votes, or 27.11 percent
2. Incumbent City Councilor Becca Gerber, 1,047 votes, or 26.04 percent
3. Max Doilney, 620 votes, or 15.42 percent
4. Ed Parigian, 460 votes, or 11.44 percent
5. Deanna Rhodes, 420 votes, or 10.45 percent
6. Lewis, 193 votes, or 4.8 percent
7. Fairbanks, 191 votes, or 4.75 percent
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