Board of Recount members (left to right) Danielle Lafond, Selectmen Kevin Hayes and Gus Benavides, and Town Clerk /Tax Collector Denise Gonyer hand count ballots as Town Moderator Sandy McGonagle (standing) supervises and collects any unclear ballots. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012The Board of Recount affirmed the results of the vote on the fire engine lease purchase warrant article with a hand count of ballots Friday, Sept. 21, finding the same results as the electronic balloting machine; 1,089 yes and 743 no.
Again, officials counted a total 1,832 ballots, requiring that the fire engine warrant article receive 1,099 positive votes to reach the 60 percent majority, and counters again confirmed that the article failed to pass by 10 votes.
The Board of Recount consisted of Town Clerk/Tax Collector (TC/TC) Denise Gonyer, Selectmen Gus Benavides and Kevin Hayes, and appointed member Danielle Lafond, who works in the TC/TC office. Town Moderator Sandy McGonagle supervised the recount and announced the final results.
"We are here to affirm the ballot box counted correctly," said McGonagle prior to the count.
Each Board of Recount member sorted ballots into votes for and against the article and separated any unclear ballots. Then they hand counted the yes and no ballots.
During the sorting process, Gonyer said she was glad they did not have to count all election results by hand, and McGonagle reminisced about a time before automated ballot counters, when they had to do just that.
After the recount, McGonagle had 30 unclear ballots, which were lightly shaded, marked with an X or marked in an incorrect area. Confirmed by all witnesses present, McGonagle declared that 15 of the ballots were for the article, and 15 were against the article, with one 'black' ballot.
Even with the unclear ballots, the recount results were consistent with the ballot box results.
Board of Recount members were pleased to see the automated counting system is accurate.
"Phenomenal," expressed Hayes. "The count was exactly the same."
McGonagle said this should ease voter concern over the accuracy of the automated system.
According to Gonyer, concern over automated ballot counting systems is a nation-wide concern, and this was proof that the Gilford system is accurate.
Witnesses of the recount included Don Spears, who represented the Board of Fire Engineers, and Budget Committee member Sue Green, who said she was attending as a Gilford resident.
At the last Board of Selectmen meeting Wednesday, Sept. 12, Fire Chief Steve Carrier addressed the repair of the 25-year-old Engine Four. Carrier said repairs would begin at the Department of Public Works for work on the brakes, suspension and cab mounts.
According to Carrier, they would then send the pump refurbishment out for bid as they needed a certified technician to do the work.
Carrier said they expected repairs to Engine Four to cost about $50,000, but said a Lakes Region Fire Apparatus technician advised them to set aside about $75,000 in case of any unexpected issues.