Nething keeps Senate seatDave Nething will return to the North Dakota Senate. The 42-year veteran of the Legislature eked out an 8-vote victory over Democratic challenger John Grabinger after a recount Friday. The recount for the District 12 Senate seat was the only mandatory recount in North Dakota after the Nov. 4 general election.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Dave Nething will return to the North Dakota Senate. The 42-year veteran of the Legislature eked out an 8-vote victory over Democratic challenger John Grabinger after a recount Friday. The recount for the District 12 Senate seat was the only mandatory recount in North Dakota after the Nov. 4 general election.
“I’m very impressed with our Canvassing Board, the recount board and the auditor’s office,” Nething said. “This recount shows they did a heck of a job.”
On election night the unofficial vote totals placed Nething 10 votes ahead of Grabinger. After the Canvassing Board added some late arriving absentee ballots the margin expanded to 12, still within the one half of one percent, or about 15 votes, that would trigger a mandatory recount.
Noel Johnson, election administrator for Stutsman County, served as leader of the recount. He and representatives of the candidates, Joe Larson for Nething and Jamie Selzer, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic Party, for Grabinger, reviewed each ballot. Of the approximately 6,000 votes cast they found 105 where the voter’s intention might have been misinterpreted by the vote counting machines. These ballots were then hand reviewed by the recount board, Karen Samek, Stutsman County recorder, Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney, and Mark Klose, Stutsman County Commission chairman.
Of the 105 challenged ballots three were dismissed due to the lack of an election official’s initials.
“It’s statutory,” Johnson said. “They can’t be counted.”
The rest of the challenged votes were counted with the recount board unanimously agreeing on the voter’s intent in each case.
Both candidates lost votes in the recount from the totals generated by the Canvassing Board. The recount board gave Nething 2,974 votes, down nine from the 2,983 he had after the Canvassing Board. Grabinger lost five votes ending with 2,966 votes after the recount.
In the end both candidates were satisfied with the validity of the results.
“The recount process has been a roller coaster,” Nething said. “But we’re pleased with the results.”
Grabinger also voiced his approval with the process and his efforts.
“The voters spoke,” Grabinger said. “I’m proud of the campaign and the committee that worked on our race. I want to thank them and the voters for their support.”
And while Grabinger wouldn’t comment on any future political plans he did seem surprised with how close he had come.
“It’s been close to a year since I decided to run,” he said. “I never dreamed it would end up this close. We talked about some very important issues during the campaign; I hope the Legislature will follow through.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org