Trayon White ran in the April 28 Ward 8 D.C. Council special election. (AFRO File Photo)
Trayon White, the second-place finisher in the recent Ward 8 D.C. Council special election, told officials at the District of Columbia Board of Elections on May 29 to cease the recount effort he was paying for. A short statement released by the elections board that day stated, “the termination was requested by the recount petitioner” and “as a result the certified election results for that contest stand.”
LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) defeated White and a number of other candidates with 1,955 votes (26.75 percent). White had 1,877 or 25.68 percent.
Denise Tolliver, a spokeswoman for the elections board, said White had to pay for the recount process as mandated by District law. “If Trayon White had gotten 50 more votes, the recount would have been paid for by the taxpayers,” Tolliver said.
The first day of the recount took place on May 28 at the elections board headquarters located in the Judiciary Square building. Elections board employees and some temporary workers conducted the process.
Those who counted the ballots wore dark blue polo shirts and sat at four tables in a designated room. A security guard was present at all times during the counting. The ballots were hand counted and put into envelopes that were designated as “White,” “May,” or “Other,” meaning the other candidates in the race. There are 17 precincts in Ward 8, and White specifically requested that precincts 117, 120, and 134 be counted first because his campaign leaders believed those polling places may have had some electoral mischief.
Precincts 118 and 122 were counted during the mandatory post-election audit and therefore were not part of the recount.
After the ballots were counted by hand, they were put in machines that recorded the results.
White was present throughout the recount process but May did not make an appearance at any point.
White paid $850 or $56 per precinct in the form of a deposit for the recount process to begin.
The elections board scheduled the recount for two working days and it is estimated that White would have had to pay $7,000-$8,000, or as much as $533 per precinct, if he had permitted the process of recounting the 15 precincts to go through to completion. Tolliver said that White, because he was paying for the recount, had the right to terminate it at any time.
White told the AFRO that he decided to go through the recount out of a sense of obligation to his supporters. “I am doing this because the demand from the community was so strong,” White said.
White said that he will fundraise to pay for the recount and he notes that, according to an inquiry, he has had to pay the most for this type of process. “I will make my pitch to the people in the ward to help pay for this and we have to do something,” he said. “I have learned that no candidate has had to pay this much money for a recount. The most my research has shown is $50.”
It is not clear how much White will ultimately have to pay at this point and whether it has to be done as a one-time payment or through a payment plan. Tolliver said the deposit can be used to pay part of the recount’s administrative costs and labor.
Most recounts in the District occur at the advisory neighborhood commission level, where the universe of voters is 2,000. The last major recount took place during the 2002 election season in which then D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams emerged victorious.
White has said he will challenge May in the June 14, 2016, Democratic Party primary.