VIDEO: Recount

After York City Council recount, Helfrich still leads against Toni Smith.

Flip video mixed with stills and Droid X panorama photo



A recount of the contested York City Council race conducted Monday ended with write-in candidate Michael Helfrich besting long-time incumbent Toni Smith by six votes – the same margin stated and certified by the county last month.

County elections officials conducted the recount at the behest of York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh in response to a petition filed by Smith contesting the election results in the race.

At issue are the more than 60 spelling variations of the write-in votes cast for Helfrich. Smith contends that there are inconsistencies in the count and wants some of the variations to be stricken from

Attorneys for both candidates will debate the spelling question at a hearing Linebaugh has scheduled for Friday. The county’s job Monday was to confirm the count using the same standards it followed after the election, said county Solicitor Mike Flannelly.

The proceeding, which lasted about three hours, lacked the drama of the now infamous 2000 presidential recount – no magnifying glasses were used, no hanging chads were counted. The room remained largely silent as county officials Dale Dalton and Sally Kohlbus began the painstaking task of counting all the votes for both candidates.

Smith and Helfrich positioned themselves in opposite corners of the room, leaving their attorneys in the center to hover over elections officials. A few officials including all three county commissioners, York Mayor Kim Bracey and Councilwoman-elect Joanne Borders, rounded out the crowd throughout the day.

Absentee ballots were counted first, followed by the long receipt-like tapes printed from each of the city’s 52 voting machines. Flannelly held each piece of paper in the air for examination by the attorneys, who scribbled furiously on yellow legal pads.

“It’s like watching paint dry,” one county official in the audience whispered to another.

After concluding that Smith’s 997 vote total was correct, officials turned their attention to a lengthy spreadsheet of Helfrich’s write-in votes that was projected on a large screen. Eyes crossed and temple-rubbing

Smith vowed to keep fighting.

“A 7-year-old can (spell Helfrich’s name),” she said.

Some misspellings shouldn’t count. “The intent is very questionable,” Smith said of some of the misspelled votes. “There’s just no way they could have misspelled it. They could have gone back to do it right.”

Helfrich said he was pleased with the outcome of the recount. The county used a conservative standard, and the judge could still rule in favor of giving him additional votes, he said.

“It’s very clear that intent of the voter is a broad understanding,” Helfrich said.

About Paul Kuehnel


Paul Kuehnel
has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984.

Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.

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