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Rochester Keno vote recount ends in tie, meaning initiative fails

Union Leader Correspondent

November 22. 2017 2:46PM
The Keno recount results in Rochester showed the gambling game question was tied at 1,037. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Correspondent)

ROCHESTER — A recount of the Keno votes in Rochester revealed Wednesday that the ballot question tied at 1,037.

City Clerk Kelly Walters said that means the resolution on the game failed because it needed a majority vote to pass.

During the municipal election earlier this month, voters in Rochester approved Keno by a one-vote margin, 1,036 to 1,035. Local state house representatives Matthew Scruton, R-Rochester, and Chuck Grassie, D-Rochester, pushed to get 25 people to request the recount so officials could tally the ballots by hand.

On Wednesday, at least one vote was added to the tally when counters realized the machine in a ward did not pick up that a resident had circled their choice on Keno instead of filling in the oval, Walters said.

Rochester City Councilor Sandra Keans took part in the recount and said she was not surprised by the tie.

"My surprise is there wasn't much talk about it in this community, one way or another. The council was sort of split. We just barely had the votes to put it on the ballot," Keans said.

Keans said none of the businesses which would be eligible to have Keno in their establishment reached out to her.

Keans said they also had a noticeable number of residents who didn't vote either way on Keno. "I think part of it was related to the fact that people didn't have an opinion. They didn't really know what Keno is all about," Keans said. "And frankly, with the way the ballot was designed, with it way down at the very bottom, so many people came out while I was standing at the polls that day, saying, ‘Wait a minute, weren't we supposed to vote on Keno?'"

Keans said she thinks there would have been more votes for and against the game if the question was more noticeable on the ballot.

Jason Hamann, the moderator for Ward 4, said he noticed there were people who didn't want to vote on the question or didn't see it on the ballot.

"We had some people who missed the question, didn't see it and wanted to vote, but it was too late. They had already cast their ballot," Hamann said.

Hamann said this is a classic example of the importance of each vote.

"It's absolutely important. Everybody needs to get out. There's no question in my mind that one or two votes can sway an entire election," Hamann said.

Terence O'Rourke, the city attorney, said if the City Council wants to put Keno on the ballot again they can in the 2019 municipal election.

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