The recount took place at the Whitesburg Baptist Church Outreach Center. We had to be there Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. so I didn't have to get up any earlier than I normally do since 7:00 a.m. is my normal work day start time. I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 and as I was walking in, my dad pulled up. So, I waited on him and we went in together and got signed in.
After a few instructions, we were sworn in and divided into groups. There were 15 tables and four people per table. I was at table number four and my dad was at table number five so we were able to keep tabs on each other throughout the day. My group consisted of two retired Air Force guys, Glenn and Nick and one retired school teacher, Ina. Ina was very soft spoken and didn't say too much, Glenn never shut up and Nick talked whenever there was a pause in Glenn’s talking. It actually turned out to be a really good group. We worked quite efficiently together and without any discourse which was good.
Each table was given a set number of precincts, totaling about 8,000 ballots each. We counted one precinct at a time, opening boxes and running each ballot through the machine. If a ballot was rejected, we looked to see if there was either a straight party vote or a vote in the probate judge’s category. If there was one or the other, we ran it through again and if the ballot was again rejected then it went into a pile. If there was not a vote in either of those categories then it was considered a no-vote and was placed in a separate pile. One all ballots from the precinct were ran through the machine, totals were printed, everything was signed off, the numbers were added to the spreadsheet tallying all the votes, the boxes were re-sealed and the machines were zeroed out to begin work on the next precinct. By the way, in case you were wondering, here in Madison County, ballots are kept for 22 months before being discarded.
We had a lunch break from 11-1 and my dad and I went by my house to let The Tide out and then grabbed a bite to eat before heading back. The afternoon session began at 1:00 p.m. and around 6:30 those that were closing out a precinct were able to leave and those of us in the middle of counting a precinct worked until 7:00 p.m. which was our official closing time. The number on the machine was written down and the machines were turned off for the night. Sheriff's deputies guarded the machines and facility overnight.
We returned at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning and after being sworn in again, the machines were turned on and we made sure the number that came up on the machine was the same as it had been when we left the night before. Then we began running the remainder of the ballots through. When we were done and everything was signed off, we were free to leave as there were no more precincts to be counted. I finished up before my dad and so I waited around for him to finish.
When all was said and done, Tommy Ragland won by 197 votes – the total was 120 in the general election so the lead was increased in the recount. That was due to provisional ballots and absentee ballots and also a few ballots that were voted with an ink pen or some other crazy situation like that.
I was glad we were finished early on Tuesday as it gave me time to get some rest and also get some Thanksgiving cooking started. Let me tell you, I was exhausted after that first day of work. I would have never guessed that putting thousands of ballots in a voting machine would be so draining, but I was really dragging towards the end of the day and so was everyone else. I went to bed at 9:00 on Monday night and slept the whole night.
I’m so glad I participated in the recount. It was an interesting process and it truly was an example of proof that every vote does in fact count. I’m glad that Tommy won. I mentioned here before that he is a long time friend of my parents’ and he is a really good person; so, I’m glad he’ll be keeping that office for four more years.