Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Denise Gutierrez-Homer has filed paperwork and submitted a deposit with the City Clerk’s office to request a recount in the District 2 race after she missed the runoff election by 59 votes, the City of San Antonio confirmed Thursday.
In District 2, which covers the East Side and stretches north to Austin Highway, 5,407 residents cast ballots in an eight-candidate race in which there was no incumbent.
Keith Toney, who previously served as an appointed Council member for less than five months, received 1,456 votes for nearly 27 percent of the total. Jada Andrews-Sullivan, a political newcomer, received 1,157 votes, or 21.40 percent. Gutierrez-Homer, an artist and small business owner, received 1,098 votes, good for 20.31 percent.
“All I’m asking is that the voters of D2 have their votes counted and their voices heard,” Gutierrez-Homer said Friday at a press conference.
During election night, a glitch in the unofficial results had Gutierrez-Homer ahead by more than 33,000 votes at one point. The numbers were later corrected by Bexar County Elections Department officials.
“That [glitch] definitely was a significant factor” in making the decision for a recount, said Mary Briscoe, Gutierrez-Homer’s campaign treasurer. “It just seemed a little bit suspect.”
“That’s the reason why they’re quite enthusiastic about the new machines coming in in Bexar County because they don’t want to have any more problems,” Gutierrez-Homer added at the press conference. “And that was an obvious one that everyone in the city saw.
“Actually, I think I became mayor for 15 minutes,” she said in jest.
One of the electronic ballot readers at Lamar Elementary polling station had a “bad cell,” said Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, which caused the spike. The elementary school served as the voting location for the same precincts and early voting data that Gutierrez-Homer requested the recount for.
“We knew that number was corrupt,” Callanen said, but the system has an automatic backup recording of each vote and they were able to verify that the backup was accurate.
“This is a reaffirmation of our checks and balances,” said Callanen, who welcomes the recount effort. “The good thing is, it proved our system works. … I doubt very much that [Gutierrez-Homer] is to see any change, but this is just for her satisfaction or anyone else with concerns.”
Gina Castañeda, Gutierrez-Homer’s campaign manager, said she compared numbers from the elections department’s daily reports during early voting and found discrepancies between the vote counts the county reported then and the vote totals posted on election night.
Candidates who request a recount are responsible for the cost, which includes at least $100 per electronic precinct recounted and another $100 for each early voting location. Other fees are possible, according to state law. There are 82 precincts in District 2.
In a Facebook post, Gutierrez-Homer said she personally paid for the recount. The City confirmed that the $1,100 fee was paid.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg has appointed Melinda Uriegas, an assistant city clerk, as the recount coordinator, according to a City spokeswoman, who will “put together however many teams she deems necessary to go recount the ballots.”
Those teams will start with paper mail-in ballots, then move on to electronic ballots, which represents the bulk of votes.
“If everything remains the same in regard to the vote count, the process will continue as planned with the canvass of the vote on [Wednesday,] May 15,” the spokeswoman said. “If something changes in regard to vote count, it will be brought before the Council next Wednesday. The Office of the City Clerk is working in conjunction with Bexar County for the entire process.”
If there are any changes, Callanen said, they will likely come from the roughly 300 mail-in ballots received for District 2 race. The first task will be separating those from the approximately 6,500 total – an arduous one, she said, but the recount could be completed in three to four hours, depending on how experienced the counters are that the City hires. Once the paper ballots are recounted, they’ll tap into the second backup of recorded votes.
City Council selected former District 8 Councilman Art Hall to serve as the interim District 2 representative after Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw resigned to become an associate judge for Bexar County. The district, which has been neglected by public and private investment historically but is experiencing rapid growth and change near the urban core, has had four representatives since Ivy Taylor left the seat in 2014.
The elections department will begin the recount Tuesday morning, Castañeda said.