Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson wins again after recount

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo announced Wednesday night that a recount in the May 1, 2021 mayoral race did not change the outcome. Mayor Ginger Nelson still held more than 54% of the vote once the recount was done.

The recount came after mayoral candidate Claudette Smith’s petition was certified last week. The City of Amarillo confirmed last week Mayor Nelson would have had to lose 816 votes in the recount, to push her below the 50% plus one vote threshold, and force a run-off.

Wednesday night, the city provided the election results for each mayoral candidate on May 1, as well as recount results on May 12.

Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said the counters found a net change of 10 votes which did not change the outcome.

According to Miller, they found a change for Michael Hunt of an additional seven votes, an additional two votes for Claudette Smith, one less vote for Carl Karas, and an additional two votes for Mayor Nelson.

Courtesy: City of Amarillo
Courtesy: City of Amarillo

“That is a net of 10 more votes in the recount than what was originally reported that represents just over 49/1000 of 1%,” Miller said. “We were able to track down three of the 10 and all indications were that those were associated with mail-in absentee ballots, but we do not know for all ten of those what the nature of those discrepancies were.”

Miller said the elected administrators for those precincts will chase down remaining vote discrepancies in the coming days.

“We were intentional, we were methodical. We checked and we rechecked both the process and the results. The process from beginning to end, was overseen by the candidates, or their delegates, law enforcement, and not one but two, Secretary of State election security trainers. We crossed every T. We dotted every I, and then we checked them again, so that when we were finished, there would be no possibility of any reasonable doubt as to the results,” Miller added.

Miller said the votes will be canvassed and Mayor Nelson will be sworn in at the next City Council Meeting on the May 25. also heard from Mayor Nelson on her win on Wednesday night.

“I think this result proves the confidence that we can have in the process, but I specifically want to thank our City Secretary and the Secretary of State’s office for sending representatives to be a part of the process,” Mayor Nelson said. “And most importantly, I want to thank our voters. It’s because of them, that we we have this great system. And we’ve been through the process and I respect that. And now it’s on to doing work for the city.”

We also reached out to Smith for an interview about the recount, but she was not available Wednesday night.

Miller said the city does not yet know the cost of the recount or what Smith might owe.

“We will tally up all the costs, submit those to the Secretary of State. Whatever costs are applicable to the applicant will be forwarded on to them if there’s a balance beyond what they’ve already paid,” Miller said.

Last week, the city announced Smith had paid a deposit of $4,500 for the recount.

Per Texas State law, media were not allowed inside the Amarillo Civic Center’s Grand Plaza for the recount, but the candidates and several others were authorized to be there.

“It was calm, it was organized and again, they were following a set procedure and the candidates were invited to be a part of that,” Mayor Nelson said. “They were invited to bring people from their election teams, you know, to watch and be observing the process. So, it was all done out in the open with a very open, organized process today.”

When asked if she trusted the recount process, Mayor Nelson said yes, adding, “I knew this was a process and I trust the process. And I think as a voter, I appreciate the people who are trained to run these elections and the people who are trained to run the recount process,” Mayor Nelson continued. “So all along, I had trust in the process and I trust the people who are trained and who who value our rights as Americans, as voters for our votes to be heard and valued.”

Mayor Nelson said plenty of work went into the recount to make sure the process was followed.

“Dozens of people have spent their time to follow the process and even we’ve had, you know, people from the Secretary of State’s office who are experts in this and not part of our local community just to add that extra element of certifying that we follow the process correctly,” Mayor Nelson said.

Ten voting teams counted all ballots by hand on Wednesday, as requested. Miller said they largely stuck to the timeline outlined, as between six and eight hours for counting.

“Once we finished that, then the election committee tallied up all the votes. We spent a lot of time working to identify and try and track down and chase down those discrepancies, we wanted to, we wanted it to be exactly perfect. We spent a lot of time talking to the Secretary of State’s lead attorney, and also to the Secretary of State’s representatives on site.”

Miller continued, “After all said and done, they were confident that the results, had no indications of fraud or anything untoward.”

Miller said there were plenty of citizens involved in the recount.

“There were a lot of personnel that supported behind the scenes. There were no city employees, and no county employees that were involved in the recounting process but we did support logistically on the front end getting ready, making sure to get all the equipment, all the supplies necessary, and then supporting the recount process,” Miller added. “But none of us were involved in the actual recount.”

As previously reported, this was the first recount in recent city history.

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