The Republican chairman of a committee that will pick the winner of a disputed state Senate race in Portland’s northern suburbs said Monday that the panel will thoroughly review 21 ballots from Long Island that showed up during the recount of the contest but weren’t recorded on Election Day. Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, also said that the panel expects to hear testimony from the Long Island town clerk, who oversaw the election and signed off on the Election Day count. “Obviously it’s political, but the most important thing to Senate Republicans is that the right person who was duly elected gets seated and we maintain the integrity of this institution,” Katz said. “And we intend to do that.” The 21 ballots are at the center of the contested Senate District 25 race between Republican Cathleen Manchester of Gray and Democrat Cathy Breen of Falmouth. Unofficial results on the night of Nov. 4 showed Breen beating Manchester by 32 votes, 10,930 to 10,898. Manchester challenged the results, and after a recount, Manchester appeared to be the winner by 11 votes, 10,927 to 10,916.
During the recount, officials discovered 21 extra ballots from Long Island that were cast for Manchester. On Election Day, the town clerk’s list of voters who entered the polls and a count of the ballots showed that 171 were cast. After the recount, there were 192.
In addition to Long Island, District 25 includes Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Gray, Chebeague Island and parts of Westbrook.
Democrats have suggested that the discrepancy indicates there was election fraud. The attorney for the Maine Democratic Party refused to sign off on the results of the recount, but didn’t officially challenge the 21 uncounted Long Island ballots until later.