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Revaluation warrant article reversed in recount

Property reval to begin soon

March 24, 2010
LITTLETON–After a recount of ballots last week, the result of the vote against a town-wide revaluation was overturned and the article passed by two votes.

The revaluation will start on time, according to town officials, and be completed by Sept. 1.

Last week, after news was released that the article asking for voter approval of the $125,000 property revaluation did not pass, town officials were looking for a way to pay for one anyway. While the voters may not have approved the expenditure, the revaluation is mandatory and the Department of Revenue Administration could have gone to Superior Court to compel the town to conduct a revaluation, or do one itself and submit a bill to the town. This would have been necessary because according to RSA 32:10, "No means no," when voters say funds cannot be spent on a particular item.

During a Board of Selectmen meeting last week, officials said that in the future, revaluation costs might be put right in the budget since the town has no choice whether or not to do one.

The results of the recount were released during a press conference Monday morning given by Board of Selectmen Chairman Ron Bolt, Moderator Gerald Winn, and Town Clerk Judy White. The article had originally lost by a vote of 782 to 777, losing by five votes. The new count was 799 to 797, winning by two.

Winn explained that a number of votes the machine had registered as blanks when votes were counted the night of town meeting were looked at to determine the intent of the voter. Those votes account for the higher totals, Winn said.

"Both yes and no votes picked up votes," Winn said.

On some of the ballots people did not properly fill them out, using checkmarks instead of filling in the oval. On other ballots, both the yes and no ovals were filled out and people wrote next to them indicating their preference. Those were considered blank votes on that item by the voting machine, Winn said.

The Accuvote voting machine has been owned by the town since 1996 and has never been a problem, both Winn and White said. White said that there were a lot of new voters this year who may not have understood the instructions for how to fill out the voting forms.

"We may have to educate the voters more," White said.

Winn agreed and said he hadn't seen such a discrepancy in a recount in many years. He said he was surprised, as before the vote town officials didn't hold out much hope the vote would change. Around one third of the time for the recount was taken to discuss the discrepancy, he said.

The committee of people reviewing votes consisted of the town clerk, moderator and selectmen.

Town Manager Chuck Connell said he has already contacted "various players" and that the revaluation would soon get under way.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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