Same result, different day in Litchfield warrant recount
LITCHFIELD — An election recount on Tuesday resulted in different numbers but ultimately the same outcome for a single warrant article.
According to Terri Briand, town clerk for Litchfield, a warrant article seeking to change an elected road agent position to an appointed position determined by the Board of Selectmen was approved 790 to 787.
A recount was requested by local resident Tom Schofield after the initial results netted results of 789 in support and 781 in opposition.
Tuesday’s recount narrowed the margin to a difference of just three votes, but the article still passes, Briand said.
Tuesday’s recount was originally scheduled for last week, but was postponed after the state Attorney General’s Office issued a cease and desist order claiming that select individuals did not receive direct notice from Briand three days prior to the event.
Schofield said he gathered enough signatures to request the recount, primarily because the town ran out of electronic ballots and was forced to use paper-copy ballots that were hand-counted late into the night on March 11.
According to Schofield, he was never informed by the town clerk that the original recount had been scheduled for last Friday, but only learned about it after reading a posting on an online message board.
“I don’t care if this warrant article passes or not, my concern is that the town failed to duly notify me of the recount,” he said.
In response to the Attorney General’s opinion, Briand contends there is a loophole in state election laws that must be amended to clarify who should receive personal notification for recounts.
Briand referenced RSA 669:31, which states in part: “The clerk shall notify each of the candidates for the office for which there is to be a recount at least three days prior to the day appointed for the recount of ballots.”“A candidate and a petitioner is not the same. Tom is not a candidate — he is a petitioner,” she said, maintaining there was no error on her part or the part of the town.
Briand has already been in touch with representatives from the New Hampshire Municipal Association to seek assistance in getting the law amended.
In the meantime, the town’s current road agent, Jack Pinciaro, who happens to be Briand’s father, will continue his elected post until the 2015 town meeting, at which time his position will terminate and the Board of Selectmen will seek candidates to appoint to the role.