RUMFORD — It cost him more than $250 to gain one vote, but former Selectman Frank DiConzo said Wednesday's 2½-hour recount proved his point that the town needs to buy new voting machines after a machine malfunctioned.
Outgoing Town Clerk Jane Giasson said Wednesday that town officials already knew this, but Rumford and other towns have been placed in a holding pattern for four years by the state, which wants all municipalities to buy and use the same machines.
State officials, however, can't decide which machine to get, Giasson said.
After losing his bid at the June 8 polls for another three-year term by 58 votes to newcomer Jeremy Volkernick, DiConzo asked for a recount and plunked down a $250 deposit to get it going.
His initial reasons: Problems with ballot machines that he said last week should have been replaced long ago; the less than 100-vote margin between himself and Volkernick; and more than 100 ballots that might not have been counted.
Volkernick got 570 votes, while former Selectman Jolene Lovejoy got 524 votes and DiConzo received 513.
Of other candidates seeking one of the two three-year terms, Brad Adley was re-elected after getting 810 votes. Opponents Frank Anastasio received 388 votes and Eric Giroux got 221.
In the race for a one-year selectman's term, Jeff Sterling won re-election, getting 824 votes to opponent Paul Lowell's 758.
Wednesday's recount at Rumford Falls Auditorium gave Volkernick, Lovejoy and Lowell two additional votes; DiConzo, Adley and Giroux each gained a vote; but Sterling lost a vote. Anastasio's tally remained unchanged.
Additionally, write-in Jennifer Norris received 20 votes for the one-year term, while write-ins for the three-year terms, Juliet Alexander and Peter Tinkham, each received 15 votes. Tabulations for the write-ins remained the same following the recount, Giasson said.
To ensure accuracy during the recount, the 1,658 municipal election ballots were hand-counted and fed into the lone working machine to tabulate results.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said DiConzo will be billed for the balance of the recount cost.
Despite what he said last week and in his written request for a recount, DiConzo said he sought it not to prove the June 8-9 tally wrong; he'd already conceded defeat.
“I just want to make it clear that the point of my recount is that we need new machines here,” he said, suggesting town officials buy four now instead of waiting for the state to get its act together.
“I don't give a hoot if I win or lose, but my point was made as soon as they started using this machine this morning,” DiConzo said of a voting machine in the hallway.
Officials tried for 30 minutes to get it to work, but it wouldn't, DiConzo said, so the other machine was used.
Giasson said the failed machine simply lost power and needed to be reset.
“There's nothing major wrong with it,” she said.
DiConzo, however, insisted it's unreliable.
“If you have four machines at that ballot booth, you don't have lines waiting and you won't have to worry about having a lock box,” DiConzo said.
When one machine broke down on June 8, several ballots were placed in an unlocked rubber bin to reduce long lines of voters waiting to feed seven ballots each into the machine.
DiConzo said that since Rumford switched from town meeting voting to secret ballot at the polls, the town should have purchased two more voting machines to go with the current two.
“We can't wait for the state to decide if they want to go with one company or another company, we need them now, because we've had these machines ever since we went to secret ballot and this town was not prepared to do so,” DiConzo said. “That's what this is all about. I don't care about winning or losing. I've dedicated 21 years to this town and I think that's enough.
“Four years ago, I preached about buying new machines and nobody wanted to go along with it, and my prophecy came true. We had major problems. Waiting only causes fiascoes like this.”