When you think of Maine you think of lobsters and blueberries and quaint, picturesque towns. For years, ballot clerks in hundreds of these small towns have spent election night painstakingly hand-counting ballots. Depending on the size of the town and the size of the election, this process could last well into the morning hours. In early 2012, there were approximately 500 towns throughout Maine still hand-counting ballots. The Secretary of State’s Office, in an effort to speed up the process and get results to Augusta more quickly, offered the towns with more than 1,100 registered voters access to 225 vote tabulators (ES&S DS 200) free of charge under the state’s contract with the vendor. “We are providing 225 tabulators free of charge,” explained Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state. “The majority of the municipalities with more than 1,100 registered voters accepted the tabulators.” Only Greenville, Litchfield and Winterport declined two offers from the state and continue to count their ballots by hand.
According to Flynn, there is nothing in state law mandating that the towns use vote tabulators.
When provided the opportunity for a free vote-counting machine in Greenville, Town Manager Gary Lamb was excited about the prospect.
He noted that having the machine count the ballots would eliminate human error and just as importantly, would speed up the process, especially for town employees who already had a long day.
“I had accepted the blasted thing and then got a call from Julie [Flynn, deputy secretary of state] saying that the board of selectmen had to sign off on it,” Lamb said. “I didn’t expect there to be any problems.”
But there were and by a 3-2 vote the board of selectmen chose to stick with the hand-counting tradition.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.