Newport cleared in voter’s claim

Posted April 20, 2009, at 7:35 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — Town election officials have been cleared of any wrongdoing at the polls during March voting.

Blanche Ricker first approached the selectmen at their March 18 meeting, saying she had been “harassed, coerced and humiliated” while attempting to vote Friday, March 13.

Ricker said she does not like confined spaces and her problems began when she requested to vote in the open, rather than in a booth. She said election wardens treated her badly but she ultimately was allowed to cast her ballot.

Ricker also claimed that Town Clerk Paula Scott followed her to her car, called police, and then went back into the polls and told election workers that Ricker was intoxicated.

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Scott told the selectmen that she had been returning from lunch and was told by election workers that Ricker might be impaired. Scott said she did notify police because she is charged by state law to maintain the safety and security of a polling place.

Because Ricker is the ex-wife of Town Manager James Ricker and Scott is his girlfriend, the selectmen chose to turn the issue over to the state for investigation.

James Ricker said Brian MacMaster of the Maine Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation and it revealed there was no evidence to support the allegations.

MacMaster did not return a recent call for information about the investigation and his office was closed Monday.

Ricker said the town received the investigation results last week.

In a prepared statement, the selectmen said “We are mindful of the cast of doubt these accusations can cause, but are proud that our staff conducted themselves in accordance to election standards.”

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