Gates, Carter still winners in election

KINGMAN – The numbers changed, but the winners were the same after all city election votes were counted and tallied.

The outcome, particularly in the close mayoral race, was in doubt because of confusion over more than 1,000 ballots that had been mailed or cast early.

Monica Gates defeated incumbent Mayor Les Byram by 213 votes, 2,090-1,877, the Mohave County Elections Department reported Thursday.

Gates expanded her margin slightly from the results announced soon after polls closed Tuesday evening.

In the runoff for a City Council seat, Tom Carter defeated Michael Schoeff, 2,170-1,583, nearly doubling the winning margin reported Tuesday.

Both ballot measures, Home Rule and General Plan 2020, passed by wide margins.

Of the 3,983 votes cast, 3,970 were ruled valid.

The election was thrown into confusion Wednesday afternoon when Allen Tempert, the county elections director, called Kingman City Clerk Toni Weddle to inform her that 1,094 early ballots that had been counted were not included in the totals released at 8 p.m.

Tuesday.

Weddle told the candidates and news media Wednesday night.

The Mohave County Elections department did so Thursday morning when County Manager Ron Walker issued a press release.

Weddle is the election officer for the city, which has a contract with the county to conduct elections.

Tempert said he discovered that the early ballots had been counted but not transferred to the software program that would add them to the ballots cast at the polls Tuesday.

He said he was conducting routine audit procedures when he found the error.

He did not explain why he told Weddle of the error Wednesday afternoon without telling her the correct vote count.

Weddle said she would not have needed to call the candidates and the media Wednesday evening and tell them about the problem.

"We have apologized to the candidates and corrected the error," Walker said.

"It was an administrative error and the counts are now accurate."

Walker's press release Thursday morning stated, "The standard practice of including the early vote totals in the election night results was not followed due to an administrative error involving the new voting tabulation process."

The process was used in the March city primary election and the Democrats' February presidential primary without problems, he said.

Questioned about effect of the confusion on voter confidence, Walker said, "I can't do anything about voter confidence in the system.

We made a mistake and apologized for it."

Walker said changes will be put in place prior to the September primary election.

Flow charts of the process and checks in the system designed to eliminate human errors will be developed.

He said the flow charts and procedures will be shared with the media when completed.

"The new equipment worked as expected and the computer counts are accurate," Walker said.

He indicated that he would continue to support and stand by Tempert as the new procedures are developed.

Tempert reports directly to Walker.

Weddle said she would meet with Tempert and iron out some issues before the city has another election.

The Kingman City Council scheduled a special meeting for 11 a.m.

Monday to canvass the votes and make the election results official.