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Thomaston recount confirms crematorium vote

By Christine Simmonds | Sep 30, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Volunteers recount ballots by hand for the Thomaston crematorium referendum Sept. 29.

Thomaston — Thomason’s vote on the crematorium lease was confirmed with a historic hand-count Sept. 29.

The group “Neighbors of the Thomaston Cemetery” submitted a written request for a recount, according to Town Manager Kara George. The group presented 100 signatures from registered Thomaston voters that was received by the town office Sept. 22.

The recount was held at the town office, with people from both sides of the issue participating. Town Clerk Melissa Stevens and moderator Mike Mayo supervised. The recount was open for public viewing.

The final results of the Sept. 15 election on the crematorium lease, according to the ballot machine, were 298 yes to 289 no votes. A total of 595 ballots were submitted for the Town Meeting election. Seven votes on the issue were blank and one was counted as an “overvote,” where the individual put both yes and no.

The hand recount confirmed the results of the ballot machine.

Wood said she accepted the results.

Stevens said she was in contact with the Maine Municipal Association in order to organize the event. According to the MMA, this is the first instance of a town holding a recount for a referendum question. Other municipal recounts have been for elected candidates.

“I applaud Missy on her hard work and persistence in researching the proper procedures,” said George. “She has talked to legal counsel at Maine Municipal Association as well as Julie Flynn at the Secretary of State’s Office.”

The hand-count procedure for Sept. 29 was construct by Stevens through researching Maine statutes regarding election result recounts.

The recount involved four tables, with two counters and one observer at each table, “to ensure that the process and procedure are being adhered to,” Stevens said.

Nancy Wood, the representative of the Neighbors of Thomaston, supplied four people to serve as counters and one alternate. Mike Hall, owner and operator of Midcoast Crematorium Inc., also supplied four counters and an alternate.

Stevens also found four people to assist. “I don’t want someone to walk away questioning,” she said.

“I want to ensure the integrity of my ballots,” said Stevens, adding that she wants to protect the voters and their votes as well.

Since the election, Stevens said the ballots have been stored in a sealed box inside a safe at the town office.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Joanne Lee Richards | Oct 05, 2020 18:35

Prior to every election the Town Clerk and wardens test the machine by filling out  ballots and putting them through the machine. The ballots are then counted by the wardens and clerk to assure the results match. In all the years I have done this there has never Been an error. So you can vote Nov 3rd with assurance you vote will be counted accurately.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 01, 2020 14:32

So there !!!

Posted by: PETER LAMMERT | Sep 30, 2020 20:00

As one of the three "guardians of the ballot box" in the Thomaston Town Meeting that generated this request for a recount, I have always wondered for the past ten years or so that the ballot counting machine has been used in Thomaston, if it was accurate in tallying the ballots entered.

This recount shows that the machine count was correct. There were multiple instances where a ballot (there were two pages of ballot questions to cover the 31 warrant articles) was pushed back out of the opening with the notation on the screen that there  was a problem. The majority of the problems were marks in both the" yes " and  "no "ovals on a particular article that was also cited by the machine as to which number it was.Voters, to which this happened, found that as much as a pen "dot" on the article generated the rejection by the machine if the other oval was , more or less, completely filled in. Voters who asked how to repair the defect were advised to see the ballot clerk for a clean ballot in exchange for their machine rejected ballot. Peter Lammert

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