WILLMAR — Steven Gardner will be sworn in as the next Kandiyohi County Commissioner in District 2, following the recount performed Friday. He defeated incumbent commissioner Steve Ahmann 1,440 to 1,422.

Gardner increased his lead over Ahmann by 5 additional votes, while Ahmann's total remained the same.

The recount was requested by Ahmann, who trailed Gardner by 13 votes prior to the recount. Once the recount was completed, that difference widened to 18 votes.

County Auditor Mark Thompson said the five votes were added to Gardner's total after election judges, and both campaigns, agreed it was the voters' intent to vote for Gardner. Thompson said the tabulation machines were probably unable to read the ballots when it was fed into the machine, due to how the voters marked the ballots.

The recount began shortly after 9:30 a. m. Friday in the basement of the Kandiyohi County Office Building in downtown Willmar. Two teams of election judges hand counted all 2,876 votes cast in District 2. Representatives from both the Ahmann and Gardner campaigns were allowed to watch the count and challenge ballots if they thought they were being counted incorrectly. According to Thompson, the Ahmann campaign challenged one ballot, but at the end of the recount withdrew their challenge.

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