MONTPELIER — Citing human errors in the ballot counting, the Secretary of State’s office has reversed itself and said the Progressive Party’s gubernatorial primary will be eligible for a recount.
The state canvass committee certified the results Tuesday, but Secretary of State Jim Condos said Wednesday that human errors gave write-in candidate Annette Smith only 354 votes when she has at least 370.
“We want to make sure every vote counts,” Condos said. “It was Annette Smith’s people that actually uncovered (the discrepancies).”
Martha Abbott received 371 votes, according to official results certified Tuesday — a victory margin of 17 votes that was not close enough to allow Smith to request a recount. A recount is allowed only if the margin is within 2 percent of votes cast.
State officials Wednesday projected a new differential of Smith losing by one vote, Condos said.
The 371-354 result had become official Tuesday when a representative from each of the three major political parties in the state certified the election. They will meet again at 4 p.m. today, however, to recertify the Progressive gubernatorial primary results.
A series of errors on the local and state levels gave an incorrect vote tally for Smith, said Stephanie Kaplan, an organizer for her campaign.
Kaplan and two other Smith campaign supporters visited the Secretary of State’s office Wednesday on an errand related to the results, she said. They wanted to see how many Democratic Party ballots had write-in nominations for Smith, she said.
Although only Progressive Party ballots counted toward the write-in total, the group was interested in how much support there might have been for Smith among Democrats.
Kaplan said that during the visit she noticed a clerk’s cover tally sheet for the town of Walden that suggested the Secretary of State’s office never included a corrected version in the final tally that was certified Tuesday.
Kaplan had attended the canvass meeting Tuesday and raised several concerns about ballot problems that she said may have caused votes not to be counted. But state officials dismissed her concerns during the meeting.
One of those problems involved the town of Walden, Condos said. The town clerk signed a copy of a corrected tally that showed eight write-in votes for Smith, but a secretary of state total had the number as just one.
Kaplan said the cover tally sheet for Walden included a handwritten correction by the Secretary of State’s office, which presumably was never included in the final total.
Kaplan said she brought the cover sheet discrepancy to the attention of a staffer with he Secretary of State’s office, and state officials met Wednesday to discuss it.
Condos said he wants to make sure the state gets the results right, so as soon as he learned about the error he called for the canvassing committee to meet again.
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