An election fraud mystery has emerged in Maine’s tiny Town of Long Island. The strange case has not only changed the previously announced “winner” of the election, but the contested results affect the entire state Senate and are now the subject of an investigation demanded by the Maine Democratic Party. On Election Night this year, Democrat Catherine Breen reportedly won the race for state Senate by a very slim 32 votes in Maine’s Senate District 25, according to the then-unofficial tally. However, during a hand recount of the votes last week, 21 previously unaccounted-for ballots were discovered to be in the locked Long Island ballot box. All of the “new” ballots included votes for Cathleen Manchester, the Republican candidate who had requested the recount. Those 21 “new” ballots were above and beyond the 171 votes counted by hand on Election Night (which proved to be an otherwise perfect count) and the 171 voters listed as having voted on the “voter manifest” at Long Island’s only precinct. The “new” votes, combined with a few other adjustments to the tallies in the 25th District’s six other towns, were enough to reverse the results, giving an 11-vote victory to the Republican candidate after the recount, even as neither party is able to explain the appearance of the “phantom ballots” in Long Island.
On Election Night, as Steve Mistler reports at the Portland Press Herald, the Democrat Breen barely outpaced the Republican Manchester by a total of 10,930 to 10,898.
After a recount on November 18th, and the surprise appearance of the 21 ballots for Manchester in Long Island, she was certified by the Secretary of State as having won the race by 10,927 to 10,916 — an 11-vote spread.
In addition to the 21 mystery ballots for Manchester, the recount resulted in 9 disputed ballots and “10 missing ballots from Gray and Westbrook,” according to Mario Moretto Bangor Daily News. (Recount tallies, adjustments to them, and challenged ballots are documented here [PDF].)
Without the unexplained 21 votes discovered for the Republican in Long Island, the Democrat would have won the race.