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Close NH AFL-CIO election result disputed

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 14. 2015 3:09AM
Mark MacKenzie, left, reportedly topped Glenn Brackett, right, by a close margin in the New Hampshire AFL-CIO presidential election. 

HOOKSETT — The results of an election that saw longtime New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie retain his post by a margin of fewer than two dozen votes are being challenged amid allegations that hundreds of votes cast for the runner-up were invalidated because members used check marks to indicate their preference rather than an "X" mark, according to an internal letter obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The appeal was filed by Glenn Brackett, business manager of the New Hampshire International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who lost the election 4,230 to 4,209, but wrote that 691 votes that were invalidated would have changed the results of the election.

"This is none of your business," MacKenzie said Wednesday when asked about the letter. "This is being handled internally by our members. This is not in any way a matter of public record. For you to have that letter is inappropriate."

"These ballots were improperly rejected," Brackett wrote. "The specified reason for rejecting these ballots was that the Delegates had cast their votes by use of a checkmark rather than an 'X'. However, there was no question of the voters' intent on any rejected ballot; the voter of 691 votes unequivocally attempted to cast a ballot for me."

When reached, Brackett declined to comment on the letter, except to confirm its authenticity.

"I really wanted to keep this out of the press. I wanted the process to work like it's supposed to," Brackett said. "I have every confidence the ballot committee will work diligently to ensure every vote cast is counted."

Brackett's letter also complained that, while a union rule adopted May 2 said "X" marks must be used, delegates were not widely told about the rule change prior to the election and were not given an opportunity to correct any mistake, which he claimed was a violation of union rules that read, "If a mistake is made on the ballot, a Delegate may return the ballot and receive a new ballot."

He also wrote that the invalidated ballots amounted to disenfranchisement.

"Failing to ensure that the votes of every present delegate were counted is contrary to the spirit of democracy and the foundational principles of the Labor Movement. The right of 'full and free participation' of more than 700 members of NH AFL-CIO affiliate unions was not supported by this election," he wrote.

MacKenzie, who has been the union's president since 1989, questioned the merits of the appeal, saying neither he nor Brackett had seen the actual ballots, which he said are in a sealed envelope.

"Glenn can say what he wants to say, but he hasn't seen it," he said.

MacKenzie said he believed any attempts to "draw conclusions" from the letter is inappropriate, given that the appeal process begun by Brackett, which MacKenzie said Brackett has "every right" to pursue, hasn't concluded.

"Give us an opportunity to resolve this," he said. "If Glenn wins, I'll shake his hand and trot off into the sunset."

MacKenzie told a Union Leader reporter that, if the newspaper ran a story about the letter, he would seek whatever legal remedy he could.

"You do what you want to do," he said. "This is none of your business. If you run this, I will do what I can to come after the Union Leader.

"I'm not threatening you guys," he said. "But I have an obligation to make sure our rights are protected."

MacKenzie said he was upset that an internal matter within the union was being aired in public.

"Nothing is served by the Union Leader running a story on this, from my perspective," he said.

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