The results of Wiscasset’s annual town meeting by referendum will go to a recount because election workers counted the ballots behind closed doors June 13. “It was a mistake,” Election Warden Susan Blagden said.
The recount will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 22 in the town office hearing room, Blagden said.
Maine law “unequivocally requires that ballots be counted publicly,” according to a Maine Municipal Association legal opinion requested by Wiscasset Town Manager Marian Anderson.
As election warden, Blagden was responsible for the election and was aided by several election clerks. Blagden and an election clerk prohibited members of the public who gathered at the Wiscasset Community Center at the close of polls to enter the polling location where votes were being tallied, Anderson said in an email to the Maine Municipal Association.
Those in attendance questioned the legality of closing the door to the public as votes were counted.
“In light of the statute, in view of the closed-door count last night, and in the interest of public transparency, I recommend that the Warden/Moderator of yesterday’s election, on his or her own initiative and as soon as possible (ideally within 24 hours after the polls were closed), announce that the ballots will be counted again, in public, as required by law,” said Richard Flewelling, assistant director of MMA’s legal services department, in the opinion requested by Anderson.
Wiscasset Town Clerk Linda Perry was present at the polling location, but was acting as the registrar of voters and did not have any authority over the election, she said.