The difference between a public hand count through FOIA requests and an election recount is this: No discovery of false results through a FOIA request will result in change of an election outcome. A recount, however, does change the outcome of the election if the count changes to favor a losing candidate.
From the Jackson Hole Star Tribune, published January 24, 2007 (link now dead)1
Recount confirms Cubin win
SHERIDAN — A nonbinding review of November’s U.S. House race in Sheridan County has confirmed Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin’s narrow victory over Democrat Gary Trauner. The two-day hand review of more than 11,000 ballots turned up only six ambiguous votes that had not been counted by electronic election machines. County officials said Tuesday the results confirmed the accuracy of the machines and the integrity of Wyoming’s election system. The state purchased new voting machines for counties last year.
The three Democrats who sought the recount said they had hoped in part to expose problems that would prompt the state Legislature to rewrite election laws. Official hand recounts are not allowed under Wyoming law. The “document review,” as county officials insisted on calling the effort, yielded the same results as the original tally except for six ballots that were improperly filled out. Cubin captured 5,883 votes in Sheridan County and Trauner 5,255.
“We know the machines do what they’re supposed to do,” said Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle. Referring to the ambiguous votes, he added, “Sometimes the voters don’t vote properly, but the machines do work.”
Of the six ambiguous ballots, four appeared to be for Cubin, and one each for Trauner and Thomas Rankin, the Libertarian candidate. Even if the votes had been counted, it would have done little to alter Cubin’s statewide margin of victory over Trauner — 1,012 votes out of 193,369 cast. However, Redle said the six likely would have been rejected by election judges just as the machines had rejected them.
The ballot review was initiated by a public records request from three Trauner supporters in Sheridan, who said they were satisfied with the results but continued to insist hand recounts should be allowed in Wyoming.
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Election transparency: Election transparency is the public ability to see and verify each essential step in elections, the essential steps being: (1) who can vote (voter list), (2) who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list), (3) counting of the vote, and (4) chain of custody. Reasons for transparency with sources: http://blackboxvoting.org/transparency/
All Black Box Voting stories related to election transparency: http://blackboxvoting.org/category/election-transparency/
Freedom of Information (FOI laws) – allow public access to data held by government, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. Also called open records or sunshine laws. Governments are bound by a duty to publish and promote openness. Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_information_laws_by_country
- Matthew Brown: Recount confirms Cubin win , Jackson Hole Star Tribune, 01/24/2007, was – http://www.jacksonholestartrib.com/articles/2007/01/24/news/wyoming/2de14485f17e16948725726c008 ↩