Recount May 2, in beer/wine, selectman's races
Will a tie keep Tisbury dry? Did challenger Jeff Kristal defeat incumbent Tom Pachico in the selectman's race? Two ballot recounts scheduled for Friday, May 2 starting at 2 pm in the Katharine Cornell Theatre should provide some answers for voters on both sides of the emotion-charged contests.
At a meeting yesterday afternoon, Tisbury's board of registrars scheduled the two ballot recounts to take another look at the results of the beer and wine question and the selectman's race. The ballot question recount will begin at 2 pm on May 2, followed immediately by a recount of the selectman's election, starting no earlier than 3 pm.
Question 4 on Tisbury's April 15 election ballot regarding the sale of beer and wine with meals in restaurants resulted in a tie vote, 690 to 690. The tie meant that the question failed because a majority, 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one, was not achieved. However, another 21 ballots were counted as "blanks" by the ballot scanner.
In the selectman's race, Mr. Pachico received 665 votes to Mr. Kristal's 679. Forty-seven additional ballots were counted as "blanks."
As Town Clerk Marion Mudge explained last week, it is possible a recount may reveal ballots indicating a voter's choice that were marked in a manner the machine could not read and counted as "blanks."
Under state law, any registered voter in a town may petition for a recount of a ballot question or a candidate for an office to be recounted within 10 days following an election. Petitions require a minimum of 10 registered voters' signatures. On April 16, Laura Barbera, co-owner of Nicky's Italian Café, submitted a recount petition to Ms. Mudge, as did Mr. Pachico on April 18.
The tie vote has been the talk of the town not only on the Island, but also across the country, as evidenced by listings on Google. Since there is no such thing as a "hanging chad" in Tisbury, voters have come up with their own one-liners. One suggested the perfect solution for resolving the tie vote would be to allow wine but not beer - or vice versa.
In response to all of the talk around town, the Tisbury selectmen invited Ms. Mudge to provide details about the recount procedure at their meeting Tuesday night. For the sake of efficiency and economy, Ms. Mudge said that the ballot question and selectman's race recounts will be conducted separately, but on the same day.
As she explained, following the board of registrars' decision on a date and time for the recounts, she will notify Ms. Barbera as the chairman of the Citizens to Repeal Prohibition committee and Gretchen Snyder as chairman of the Committee to Preserve Our Town.
Ms. Mudge also will provide the committee chairmen with an authorization form to list names of up to six people from their committees to observe the recounts. The forms must be returned to Ms. Mudge beforehand.
The two selectmen also may choose six observers each. Six counters hired by the town will perform the recounts. Working in pairs, sitting across from each other at a table, one reads a ballot and the other marks a tally sheet. Observers for each of the selectmen or from both sides of the ballot question will be stationed behind them.
Town counsel Lauren Goldberg of Koppelman and Paige, who is an election specialist, will monitor the event, which is open to the public. A town constable and a police officer also will attend.
The voted ballots and all paperwork from the election, including voting lists, non-voted ballots, and absentee ballots, have been sealed in a locked rolling case inside a vault at Tisbury's town hall. On May 2, the board of registrars and representatives for both sides of the ballot question and the selectman candidates will witness the transfer of the ballot case upstairs to the Katharine Cornell Theatre, where the locks on the case will be broken.
The voted ballots are sealed separately in individual envelopes in blocks of 100, with one block containing 101, Ms. Mudge explained. Working with one block at a time, a counter reads his or her interpretation of each ballot. If an observer does not agree, the constable carries the ballot in question to the board of registrars, who examine it and vote.
If the vote achieves a majority or is unanimous, the ballot is returned to the counter and tallied according to their vote. Tisbury's board of registrars includes Alden Besse, Catherine Mayhew, Beatrice Silvia, and Ms. Mudge. If their vote results in a tie, the counter who initially read the ballot votes to break the tie.
If a candidate or committee representative objects to the board's decision on a ballot, it still is counted the way the board voted it and then returned to the board's table where it will be sealed in an envelope and set aside.
Ms. Mudge estimates that each recount will take an hour and a half.
For more information about the recount process, visit www.sec.state.ma.us.