ROCKLAND, Maine — Earlier this month Frank Isganitis was announced the winner of a City Council seat but after an official recount Monday night his opponent Larry Pritchett was announced the true election winner by three votes.
The original tally stated that Isganitis won the seat by three votes but was overturned at a special City Council meeting Monday night. Pritchett is expected to be sworn in at a meeting next Monday night.
After thousands of ballots were entered into a machine, the tally was 1,126 for Isganitis and 1,129 for Pritchett.
In a public comment session after the new tally was announced, Isganitis claimed that Pritchett had been left alone with the ballots at an unofficial recount last Monday and that Pritchett had not been checked for any instruments he could have used to tamper with the ballots before he was allowed to touch them all. In an inter-view after the meeting, Isganitis clarified his statements, saying he did not think Pritchett tampered with any ballots but that perhaps precautions should have been taken.
Before the Monday night meeting, Pritchett requested the recount be done by hand and not by machine. In an e-mail he sent to the city clerk, Pritchett’s attorney wrote, “Hand recounts are the norm at the state level because state officials recognize that there are limitations as to what votes a machine can count and a hand recount best meets the statutory goal of determining voter intent. Our inspection of the ballots identified a number of ballots that were likely not counted by the machine.”
The city clerk advised the council that the machine is accurate about 97-98 percent of the time.
But after some debate at the special council meeting Monday night, three of the four councilors decided to use the machine to count the ballots.
Last week, Pritchett and his attorney did an unofficial recount of the ballots. Pritchett said he won by six votes. Because the count was unofficial, it did not directly change the City Council seatings, but it led to Pritchett filing a formal request for a recount. Isganitis was sworn in as a council member last Monday.