DiConzo questions municipal ballot tallies

RUMFORD — After losing his bid for another three-year term on the Board of Selectmen by 58 votes, incumbent Frank DiConzo filed for a recount by written statement Thursday.

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Terry Karkos/Sun Journal file photo

At his first meeting after open-heart surgery this winter, Rumford Selectman Frank DiConzo, left, admonishes the board April 1 for failing to reduce the proposed $7.2 million municipal budget. In Tuesday's election, DiConzo lost his bid for another three-year term to newcomer Jeremy Volkernick by 58 votes. DiConzo has requested a recount, which will be done Monday.

The recount is scheduled for Monday, June 14, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said.

“Other than that, I haven't had any other requests, but if they did, it would, of course, have to be in writing within five days,” Puiia said.

DiConzo asked that municipal ballots pertaining to selectmen be recounted.

“Due to problems incurred on June 8, 2010, and how they were handled to bring about the final totals, needs to be scrutinized in order to bring about a proper tally,” DiConzo wrote.

Problems with voting machines, including a sticky note attached to a ballot that corrupted a machine and resulted in ballots being stored in an unlocked bin, were among his reasons for requesting the recount.

Contacted at home Thursday afternoon, DiConzo elaborated on his reasoning.

“The races all totally were less than a 100-vote difference for the top vote-getters, and the fact that they had so many problems with the machines, OK, and the calibration of those machines, so anything could have gone wrong with those, and I think to have over 100 ballots that might not have been counted. I mean, they should be looking at those ballots and seeing what was the intent, in being judged,” DiConzo said.

A former Rumford elections warden and outspoken selectman who missed a few months on the board this winter due to open-heart surgery and recovery, DiConzo said he previously spoke about some of the balloting problems. He said they should have been taken care of by now, "but they didn't get done.”

“But if we're going to get it right, let's get the count right,” he said. “Let's look at all the ballots and discuss them all.”

In the race for two three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen, incumbent Chairman Brad Adley received 810 votes to win re-election. Newcomer Jeremy Volkernick, who took DiConzo's seat, got 570 votes, and former Selectman Jolene Lovejoy got 524. DiConzo took fourth place with 513 votes.

Two others in the race, former Selectman Frank Anastasio and newcomer Eric Giroux, got 388 and 221 votes, respectively.

In the one-year term race, incumbent Jeff Sterling got 824 votes to win re-election, while opponent Paul Lowell tallied 758, a difference of 66 votes.

However, tallies on some of the town warrant articles were much closer, such as the River Valley Chamber of Commerce's request for $3,000. That was defeated 741-738. And the Finance Committee's recommendation of $6,200 for the River Valley Growth Council, which requested $16,000, was approved by a 19-vote margin, 658-639.

Additionally, a request by local ski hill Black Mountain for the selectmen's recommendation of $56,700, was killed by 20 votes: 657 wanted no funding, while 637 OK'd the Finance Committee's recommendation of $51,000.

Referring to DiConzo's issue with voting machine problems, Puiia said there were only two problems of which he was aware.

“There was one early in the morning when a citizen put a ballot in and it didn't go in correctly, and then the person pulled back on it and it left a piece of the ballot in, but they got that unjammed, and they were able to continue using that machine, so it was kind of a temporary problem,” Puiia said.

The other problem involved someone who left a sticky note on a ballot and fed it into the machine, and it contaminated the numbers, Puiia said. The sticky note was removed, but the damage had been done, so every ballot — more than 11,000 at seven ballots per person — had to be re-entered into the machines to be counted. That process was completed by 6 a.m. Wednesday.

While one machine was down, Puiia and Giasson said Thursday that a large rubber bin with a lid was used by Deputy Election Wardens J. Arthur Boivin and Mark Belanger as a repository for ballots to alleviate long lines if people didn't want to or couldn't wait to put their ballots into the machines.

In retrospect, Puiia and Giasson said they should have used a locked box. However, Giasson said Boivin and Belanger were right there to ensure that no one messed with the ballots in the bin.

“Like anything, you learn from your mistakes,” Puiia said. “And one was that one of the machines had a malfunction that was correctable, but we know that we should have a secure ballot box available if that happens again.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Jack Kaubris's picture

Recount Criteria

Rumford needs to revisit or develop standards for a recount. Watchdog, you needed 571 votes to win a seat but only received 513. The difference of what you needed vs. what you received is greater than 10%. That is a large difference and you need to either accept the will of the people in this town or pay for a recount out of your own pocket. Rumford needs to select a % amount of voting differential that would qualify for a recount...3% seems reasonable, 5%, not so much, 10% or more, no way in hell (unless you want to fund it yourself). Frank, you are asking the taxpayers to throw some hard earned money your way to pay for something frivolous. And you claim to be concerned with wasteful spending? Show some dignity and accept the will of the citizens.

 's picture

You are all lucky

You are all lucky to be able to go to the poll on election day and cast your votes. I now live in the Pacific North West. Here, you are mailed your ballots and you have to mail them back or drop them off at the town hall. This leads to many challenges and lots of confusion. People cannot meet with the candidates at the poll because there isn't one. The officials should have been better prepared in Rumford's case. Maybe someday, they will get their act together.

Making a point

This recount is to show that Rumford made a good decision to go to the secret ballot and not about who won or lost. There should be more than two voting machines at the polls. That is what this recount is all about. The town was told by the clerk that the state was looking into different types and would be buying in bulk so would be less expensive for towns to purchase. If you wait for the State then you are doomed. Mr. DiConzo requested that the town purchase at least two more machines and have them at the polls in order to make it easier for the voters since the voter turn outs have become substantial. That's common sense ! But who listens to common sense. It showed during this election. Mr. DiConzo was fourth out of six. He's not challenging the difference between him and Adley. It's the difference between 2,3 and 4. Are they correct? If they are prove it! The break downs were not Mr. DiConzos fault so why should he be made to pay anything for this recount. The town created this problem a few years back when the office or powers to be lacked insight to correct problems in future.

Wrong observation

Read it Right ,you are way off base. When Mr. DiConzo was warden the ballots you observed were ones that had already gone through the machine and had to be taken out because machine was to full to continue. They were being seperated by what they were and placed in locked boxes as counted. And if you were so observent you would have noticed that he was prepared for a breakdown. There was a secured box at the polls.

 's picture

Ballot Procedures

The reason that the election results were delayed, is due to the fact that the election clerks and wardens had start from scratch. When the post-it note jam occurred, they had to reset the machine. This lost the data for the ballots that had been counted through that machine. Rather than make a mistake on which ballots had or had not been counted. the Election Warden decided start over. The machines were reset and every ballot was re-entered.

An issue was raised over the unsecured ballot box during the election. Mr. Puiia had brought over the old metal ballot box from the town office, but the decision was made to continue using the tote. I can only speculate that this was due to the fact that the opening on the secured metal ballot box was slightly smaller than the ballots and could have caused damage to the ballots. I observed the operations at various times during the day, and never saw the tote unsupervised. In my opinion, though it was not locked, it might as well have been.

Aside from the unsecured ballot box, the only concern I heard was that the jam may have thrown off the calibration of the machine. Not being a voting machine tech, I cannot speak to this issue, but I have been informed that any recount for the Selectman race will be done by hand count.

 's picture

Recount

Mr. Puiia and Ms. Giasson have been consulting with Maine Municipal Association. Any recount, once properly requested with appropriate deposit, will be scheduled and handled within the bounds of the law.

 's picture

hes entitled-if he feels he

hes entitled-if he feels he needs a re-count more power to him.

 's picture

adios amigos

Frank,
You, Jolene, and few other fine FORMER town elected officials need to do us all a favor and PLEASE stay out of town politics. MANY of us associate the dismal view outsiders have of Rumford with youse 2!!!!!! Consider moving to Puerto Vallarta or Cancun. They will think you are intelligent down there.

 's picture

You lost give it a rest.

Frank you lost face it and you didnt loose by 100 votes you lost by over 200, The Rumford voters have spoken, they're tired of your bullcrap!!!!!!

 's picture

fourth

Oh come on frank..You came in fourth,nobody believes your bullshit anymore.Just go away quietly already....

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