Culver school measure's fate hangs on a few ballots

Three-vote victory margin could widen - or narrow; recount is possible

Another example of how every vote counts is unfolding in the small Jefferson County town of Culver, where an $8 million school bond measure – the fourth such try in recent years – has a three-vote winning margin, but may face an automatic recount -- depending on what happens with a few ballots now in limbo.

When the votes were counted Tuesday night, the tally stood at 588 yes votes, 585 no votes -- and if it were to stand, that three-vote margin would trigger an automatic recount, county Clerk Kathy Marston said Wednesday.

But that doesn't include one ballot someone sent in but forgot to sign. It also doesn't include two other ballots from Culver that have "challenged" signatures, meaning those who check the envelope signatures found they don't match the ones on file, Marston said.

Marston said her office earlier sent letters to the any voters whose ballots were unable to be verified, giving them until a state-set deadline of Nov. 15 to come in and do so. So far, none have.

Also, seven Jefferson County ballots were dropped off in Deschutes County (as folks can do when the return deadline looms and you're not close to your home county). Marston said she did not yet know if any of them were in the Culver School District.

A recount is triggered when a margin of victory or defeat is less than one-fifth of a percent of all the ballots cast. So no matter what happens with the ballots in limbo, it would take a winning or losing margin of four votes or wider to avoid the recount. If the margin is three or less, a recount will happen after Nov. 15.

The ballots were sent by FedEx from Bend but did not arrive Thursday. Marston said it's doubtful they were from Culver, as the ones turned in in Deschutes County are usually from the Camp Sherman area.

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