OXFORD — Opponents of the casino narrowly approved by voters on election day are seeking volunteers to help in a statewide recount.
The Oxford Hills No on 1 group and CasinosNo! requested the recount.
Dennis Bailey, spokesman for CasinosNo!, observed that the unofficial results reported in the Bangor Daily News had the casino winning by a 5,600-vote margin. He said the secretary of state's official tally put the difference at 4,600, less than 1 percent.
“It moved in the right direction,” Bailey said Tuesday.
The recount is set to begin Thursday. The state requires 10 volunteers from each side working for the duration. The job requires hand-counting ballots until more than 500,000 ballots are counted or one side concedes. The work begins at 9 a.m. and runs all day. It could last all month.
Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State, said there are no rules covering what happens if the anti-casino side can't provide 10 volunteers. "If we don't have eight or 10 counters, it's going to take a long time."
Flynn said her department will have a 10 staff members assisting in the recount- one for each pair of counters. She said most of the costs to her office will be opportunity costs; department employees will be pulled from their normal work for the count.
Bailey said finding volunteers to commit was difficult with the holidays coming up. Most people could only commit to a day or two, so it will be a challenge to keep a staff of 10 counters each day.
“We'll need a pool of a lot more than 10,” Bailey said. He said the group had enough volunteers for the first days, but not everyone could stay for the duration.
Casino group Black Bear Entertainment spokesman Mark Robinson said the group has 10 volunteers lined up and seven alternates to take their places.
The volunteers underwent “professionalism training” at Black Bear offices in Oxford on Tuesday, Robinson said. The training was conducted by Dan Walker, a lawyer at the Portland firm Preti Flaherty.
“As an organization, Black Bear is being kind of stoic about this,” Robinson said Tuesday. “The other side does have a constitutional right.”
He didn't believe a recount would overturn a 4,600-vote margin, but Black Bear would go along with the casino opponents' wishes, he said.
Robinson said the volunteers are mostly Oxford County residents who want to see job creation. He said they came forward as volunteers, but Black Bear has agreed to pay them $100 a day for their time.
Bailey said CasinosNo! and Oxford Hills No on 1 would not pay their volunteers, but Bailey said the group might buy lunch for them.
Members of anti-casino groups are allowed to volunteer, but the state doesn't allow volunteers with an economic interest in the outcome to participate.
Employees or investors in Black Bear Entertainment would not be qualified to represent them in the recount.
Recount volunteers are not required to be registered voters or adults, but must understand the seriousness of the task, said Melissa Packard, director of elections at the Secretary of State's Office. The recount will take place at Maine State Police Headquarters on Commerce Drive in Augusta.