The saying "every vote counts" couldn't be more true Thursday at a recount of votes for Albertville City Council.
The recount resulted in an exact tie between incumbent Larry Sorenson and Mark Barthel — each receiving 1,116 votes.
Candidates were allowed to challenge any ballot during the recount, when election judges went through more than 3,400 ballots at Wright County Courthouse.
One ballot was challenged, and the challenged ballot will go before the council at tonight's 7 p.m. meeting at Albertville City Hall. Sorenson will abstain from voting on the matter.
A vote by the city council tonight will determine who will be declared the winner, when the council will consider who the voter intended on voting for on the challenged ballot.
Recounting the recount
The Nov. 6 election resulted in a one vote difference between Barthel and Sorenson — in favor of Barthel.
City staff and Albertville City Attorney Mike Couri had explained at the Nov. 7 special council meeting that Sorenson could ask for a recount. The recount would be paid for by the city, an expense that Albertville City Finance Director Tina Lannes expected to be less than $500.
Albertville City Clerk Kim Olson and two election judges met Thursday at Wright County Courthouse to retrieve the ballots from the secured area and begin the recount at 8:30 a.m.
Both Barthel and Sorenson attended and looked on as the election judges went through each of the ballots.
The election judges sorted the ballots by putting them in a pile for Barthel, Sorenson, both or other.
Other ballots would be ballots that had votes for other candidates or disqualified ballots that voted for three or more candidates instead of the limit of two.
Candidates were allowed to challenge any ballot during the sorting process where the ballot would then get placed in a manila envelope for city council to determine voter intent.
Olson put together a packet of information for the candidates, election judges and others interested in the recount process on how officials determine a voters intent and what possible challenges could come up.
The possible errors are "not about machine accuracy, but voter error," Olson explained. The computer won't count dashes — or possibly even an "X" marking — however, election law allows those votes based on voter intent.
The city did not disclose who challenged the ballot. A city document only states "there was one contested ballot at the recount."