Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 6, 2014
Deer Isle’s Road Commissioner vote recount ends in tie
Paul Gray sworn in till run-off election is held
Paul Gray was sworn in as interim road commissioner at the Deer Isle board of selectmen's March 6 meeting. Gray did not seek reelection to the post that he had held the previous year, but due to a tie vote in the road commissioners race, Gray agreed to stay on until a run-off election is held.
by Faith DeAmbrose
At Deer Isle’s town meeting on March 3, the race for road commissioner was called for Mark Cormier with a 207-206 vote count, just nudging out challenger Ken Eaton. The votes were counted twice on election day, said town clerk Rebekah Knowlton.
The day after town meeting, Eaton initiated a recount, and that recount, conducted March 6 by Knowlton and deputy town clerk Judy Dunham, ended in a 207-207 tie. There was one ballot that was in question, said Knowlton, but after further examination, the “intent of the voter was clear” that pushed the vote totals to the tie.
The tie will prompt a run-off election, although as of press time the details of such an election were not completely clear. The town is working with Maine Municipal Association for specific guidance, but as Knowlton found out, tie votes are rare.
There is, however, some basic information found in state statute. According to statute and information from MMA’s Election Manual, tied candidates can withdraw from a run-off election within seven days following a tie. If neither candidate chooses to withdraw, a run-off election will be scheduled between the candidates that are tied.
Since the town meeting on March 3 has been adjourned, selectmen will need to call a new meeting for the election. State statute states, “If a recount results in a tie vote, 30-A M.R.S.A.§ 2528(10) requires municipal officers to call a new town meeting for the purpose of holding a run-off election.”
The earliest a run-off election could be called, according to statute, would be 30 days from the time a meeting warrant is posted. “…[A]bsentee ballots would need to be prepared and made available to absentee voters at least 30 days prior to the run-off election.”
At their March 6 meeting, selectmen said that they plan to wait the seven days required to give a candidate the opportunity to withdraw, as well as to collect any additional information from the lawyers at Maine Municipal Association, and are likely to set a date Monday, March 10.