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.
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.”