In the several recounts conducted so far by the Maine Secretary of State's office, something strange (to my mind) has been happening: votes have been materializing. Watch:
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Joseph C. Palmieri
Lawrence Bliss (D)
Gary C. Foster (R)
Anne P. Graham (D)
James D. Libby (R)
Robert M. Hunt (D)
For the Senate District 7 recount, the total votes counted for the two candidates was 18,260. After the recount, the total was 18,269.
For House 109, the change was from 4238 to 4244.
And for House 131, the change was from 4152 to 4204.
Where are these votes coming from?
John Smith (yes, that's his real name) at the Secretary of State's office explains:
"In a recount, a number of things can happen," he says. A vote moving from one candidate to another is fairly infrequent, actually, in these days in which most Maine voters cast ballots on optical-scan forms. So what ends up occurring is that more votes appear when the ballots are hand-counted.
"Maybe the marking wasn't strong enough for an optical-scanning tabulator to pick up," Smith says.
He does note that "the numbers can go both ways" and that sometimes vote totals do go down. But he said increasing vote totals is "pretty common."
The process of hand-counting in a recount, he says, involves a representative from each candidate sitting down together to look at each individual ballot. If they agree that a particular ballot is cast for a particular candidate, then that ballot is counted as such. If they disagree, then it gets put aside to be reconsidered before being determined as a vote for one, the other, or nobody.