WILTON — The state has determined that a Wilton resident was given a filled-out absentee ballot by mistake on Election Day when he went to cast his vote at the Town Office. Absentee ballots were being processed in the same area.

Al Paradis got someone else’s ballot when he voted Nov. 3 in Wilton. Submitted photo

“We have determined that there was no violation of law in this situation,” Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, said in an email Monday.

Al Paradis of Wilton said last week that he had gone to vote and went into the ballot box with his daughter and discovered the ballot had already been filled out. He complained to Town Clerk Diane Dunham who issued him a letter of apology and took personal responsibility for the error. He contacted the Secretary of State’s Office and the FBI to report the complaint.

The Secretary of State’s Office had requested assistance from the Attorney General’s Office to investigate the complaint and promptly conducted interviews with the municipal clerk, her Election Day staff, and the voter, Muszynski said. The voter also submitted a written complaint, which investigators reviewed.

“We determined that the Wilton election officials were processing absentee ballots in the same area where they were handing out blank ballots to voters who were checking in to vote in person on Election Day, and an election worker inadvertently handed the voter one of the completed absentee ballots,” she said.

When the voter brought this to the attention of the clerk, the clerk apologized for the mistake and issued the voter a blank ballot to fill out, according to Muszynski.  She took back the marked absentee ballot to be cast. Thus, both the absentee voter who submitted the ballot and the in-person voter were able to cast their ballots as intended.

“We have reviewed the vote tallies for the Town of Wilton and found no discrepancies, and have no cause to believe that any of the election workers or officials took part in any illegal activity in this instance,” she said.

It was a simple mistake, facilitated by the proximity of the absentee ballots and the blank ballots, she said.

“After the incident occurred and was reported by the voter, our elections staff advised the Wilton town clerk that she and her team should process absentee ballots in a separate area from the incoming voter area to avoid the potential for such an error in the future. The clerk did so immediately, and no other errors of this nature occurred throughout the remainder of Election Day,” Muszynski wrote.

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