Appleton board probes voting miscount, issues statement

By Daniel Dunkle | Aug 20, 2020

Appleton — The Appleton Select Board voted unanimously in a special meeting Aug. 20 to issue a press release explaining that despite a voting machine miscount in the July 14 election, a recount is not possible.

The announcement comes after the board discussed its options with its attorney, Leah Rachin of Drummond and Woodsum, out of Portland, in a meeting Aug. 13.

The following is the board’s press release on the matter.

“The Appleton Select Board has determined that a programming error in the ballot machine resulted in a miscount of the votes for the two open seats on the Select Board. All ballots were counted. There is no evidence that any other articles on the ballot were improperly programmed or that those results were wrongly determined. There is also no indication that any other state or local ballot results were incorrect.

“Specifically, the article for election of two Select Board members was programmed by an independent company as ‘vote for one’ rather than ‘vote for two’ as it should have been in keeping with the number of open seats for the July 14th election and as represented on the sample ballot provided to Election Systems & Software of Chicago, Illinois. ES&S has confirmed the programming error and subsequently credited the town the programming fee because of their mistake.

“This programming error was not identified during the testing process that was carried out by the Town Clerk and Deputy Town Clerk.

“After extensive discussions with the Town Attorney, Maine Municipal Association and the Deputy Secretary of State, the Select Board does not have authority to do a recount of the vote and the evidence we have does not point to a change in the result if we did.

“The Appleton Select Board will work with the Town Clerk to ensure a program validation process is in place and properly executed for future elections.

“The Select Board wants to reassure the people of the Town of Appleton that we hold their right to vote and to have their votes counted as our most important duty and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that these processes are done correctly.”

Chairman John Fenner said in a phone interview Aug. 20 that he believes this will not be an issue in the November election. He expects that election will be easier because the town likely will not have any municipal items on the ballot. Residents will only be voting on the state ballot at that time.

He said previously that the issue was brought to their attention after the town received complaints that some of the write-in ballots for selectman were not counted.

There were no contested races for the two seats up for election in July.

1 2