Chris Brennick, right, chairman of the Rumford Board of Selectmen, presents the 2018 Citizen of the Year Award to Brian and Diane Mitchell on Thursday evening. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)
RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday evening to deny a request to recount every ballot cast on the 40-plus-article annual warrant June 12.
Frank DiConzo, who lost his bid for selectmen last month to incumbent Peter Chase by 50 votes, questioned the integrity of the election process.
DiConzo was not present Thursday, but Selectman Jim Windover read his statement asking the board to consider a recount of all ballots.
“There are citizens who feel their votes were not counted or counted improperly,” DiConzo said in the letter.
The articles included election of officers, budgets for town departments, amendments to ordinances and the Regional School Unit 10 budget.
In a previous letter to the board, DiConzo said between the machines “jamming several times” and the absentee ballots being “left out unlocked and unguarded,” it would be in the best interest of the town to have a recount.
DiConzo contacted the Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, a division of the Department of the Secretary of State, about the Rumford elections.
Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs told selectmen Thursday, “We’ve been regularly speaking with the Secretary of State’s Office,” which determined that there was no wrongdoing or improprieties, and that “while it isn’t best practice, the facts that those ballots were behind two locked doors, and the second locked door was only for authorized, under-oath, persons, that they would have been considered secure.”
Resident Eric Giroux said a letter from the state would help “put this issue to bed.”
Briggs said she believes that letter may be on the desk of Town Clerk Beth Bellegarde, who is on vacation.
Supporting a recount was Selectman Mark Belanger and Windover.
Windover said with a recount “nobody is going to question the integrity because it’s been done by two different people.”
Board Chairman Chris Brennick said that without hard evidence, these are “pretty serious accusations.” He said he believes the results were valid and legitimate.
Brennick, Chase and John Pepin Jr. voted to deny the request.
In other business, the 2018 Citizen of the Year Award was presented Diane and Brian Mitchell of Rumford.
Brennick noted the Mitchells have led Relay For Life for years, Voices of the Valley, events to benefit the American Cancer Society and maintain two Adopt-a-Spots in Rumford.
“It’s an amazing award,” Diane Mitchell said. “We know it’s not given lightly. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. It is very dear to us.”