2016-11-18 / Front Page

Officials move in and correct vote count

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

While Election Day has come and gone in Scarborough, it did not go out without a hitch. Due to an oversight, Scarborough inadvertently forgot to count 2,700 absentee ballots in its election totals, which were released early Wednesday morning, several hours after the polls closed.

The error was quickly noticed, the Secretary of State’s office was contacted and the votes were counted on the afternoon of Nov. 9, about 12 hours after the results were initially announced. Election results become official once formally accepted by the town council, which was expected on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

“We were made aware of the situation and gave them clearance to reopen some of what they had,” said Kristen Muszynski, director of communication for the Maine Secretary of State’s office.

Absentee ballots are available 30 days before the election and are due back to the respective town clerk’s office by the times polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Because interest in absentee ballots has been so high, Muszynski said many towns across the state have permission to process these ballots in advance of the election. Muszynski said the ballots that are processed early are tabulated and put into a locked box with the memory sticks that are used in the tabulation machines.

“We are able to run the early ballots early either on the Saturday or Monday before to help us with the election. I opted to run what I could get through the Monday prior,” Town Clerk Tody Justice said this week.

Justice said the ballots were tabulated, but due to an oversight, those votes were not included with the other early ballots and in-person voting that was processed on Election Day.

“I forgot to take the thumb drive with Monday’s work and put it in the machine and run the tally on Tuesday,” Justice said.

Despite the error, the updated results got to the Secretary of State’s office well before the deadline. Muszynski said municipalities have three business days to submit the results.

With Veterans Day – a federal holiday on Nov. 11 – the deadline this year was Monday, Nov. 14.

Justice said while the vote totals changed, the results of the election didn’t. Bill Donovan and Katy Foley still came out on top of a four-way race for two open council seats and picked up an extra 1,392 votes and 1,370 votes respectively. Marj De- Sanctis earned another 842 votes and still finished ahead of Annalee Rosenblatt, who picked up another 1,195 votes after the recount. In total, between absentee ballots and in-person voting, 12,994, or 78 percent of Scarborough’s registered voters participated in the election.

Muszynski said overall the election went well, but there were some small issues that popped up across the state.

Tabulation machines failed in several communities, forcing the ballots to be submitted via an old fashion ballot box and counted by hand. Lewiston, she said, ran out of ballots for one of the wards. Officials had to get special permission from the Secretary of State to make extra copies. Muszynski said the issue did not cause anybody the chance to vote.

“It was successful across the state,” she said, adding despite “a great many worries about a great many things” based on concern at the national level, the election in Maine went smoothly.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

Return to top