Ellsworth City Hall

Recount in city School Board race set for Monday



ELLSWORTH — A recount of ballots cast Nov. 2 to determine the winner of a three-year School Board seat will take place on Monday, Nov. 8, in council chambers. It will also be livestreamed on the City of Ellsworth Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Candidate Casey Hardwick requested the recount following a close 921-887 loss to incumbent Abigail Miller. A third candidate, Joshua Dudeck, received 534 votes.

Some ballots were rejected in the initial count because they were improperly filled out. There were 70 “overvotes” in the election. An overvote is when a voter selects more candidates than there are available seats.

The ballot-counting machine rejects ballots if too many ovals for candidates, including write-in candidates, are filled in for a particular race. However, this does not invalidate the voter’s entire ballot, only the votes for that one race.

City Clerk and Registrar of Elections Heidi Grindle said that in the recount all ballots must be counted again, not just the overvotes.

Grindle said that according to state law on overvotes, if a voter is only supposed to select one candidate but instead fills in the oval next to a candidate and also fills in the oval next to the line for a write-in candidate but does not write out a name, the vote goes to the candidate selected.

But if the write-in oval is filled and a name is written down in addition to another candidate selected, the ballot would be voided “because we don’t know the voter intent,” Grindle said. She said she checked with the Office of the Secretary of State and city attorney Ed Bearor on the recount process for overvotes.

There were 61 write-ins cast in the race, along with the 70 overvotes and 270 undervotes, where no candidates were selected.

“[Voting] is driven by technology,” Grindle said, so following ballot direction is important, although voters may request up to two new ballots if the ballot-counting machine rejects their ballot for errors.

City councilors on Friday morning certified election results for the other city races, including City Council, library trustees and a one-year School Board seat. The three-year School Board seat election certification was tabled until Nov. 8. Council Chairman Dale Hamilton told The American he plans to review the state statute prior to the recount.

Hamilton stressed the importance of transparency in the recount process, which begins on Monday at 8:30 a.m. in council chambers.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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