In a dramatic turn of events, an inspection of ballots from Long Island on Tuesday showed that 21 votes for Republican Cathy Manchester appear to have been counted twice during a Nov. 18 recount in Senate District 25. That was enough to deprive Manchester of the victory she appeared to gain from the recount and send Democrat Cathy Breen to the Senate as the Yarmouth-area district’s senator for the next two years. “I have full confidence that no one did anything wrong, that we have human error at the recount. I believe the people of District 25 have spoken, and they have spoken to vote Catherine Breen as their state senator,” Manchester said after a special Senate committee conducted an investigation into the Long Island ballots on Tuesday.
Manchester, who was provisionally seated by the Republican-controlled Senate last week, said she would tender her resignation, paving the way for Breen to be named to fill the seat when the full Senate casts a deciding vote, likely when it reconvenes in January.
The special Senate committee, tasked with finding answers in a hotly contested southern Maine election, watched Tuesday afternoon as Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn recounted the Long Island ballots and made the discovery that a batch of 21 ballots — all containing votes for Manchester — apparently was counted twice during the recount.
The committee — led by Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta and Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick — ordered an immediate recount of the Long Island election, which was overseen by Sens. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, and Tom Saviello, R-Wilton.