By:Andy McKeever On: 12:29PM / Monday October 03, 2011
Update: The City Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 5:30 to vote on the order for a home-rule petition to legitimize the preliminary election. Vice President Lisa Blackmer will preside at the meeting.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 400 ballots in last Tuesday's preliminary election for mayor were deemed illegal by City Solicitor John DeRosa because voters followed the instructions on the ballot and voted for more than one candidate.
According to DeRosa, the ballots were printed erroneously and instructed voters to vote for more candidates than were officers to be elected and, therefore, those votes are illegal according to state law. Even without those votes, Richard Alcombright and Ronald Boucher would have won the top two spots, placing their names on the November ballot for mayor. The City Council may adopt a home-rule petition to ask the state Legislature to validate the results instead of holding another election.
"We found this to be an honest mistake and a good faith mistake," DeRosa said on Monday at a press conference at City Hall.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau prepared the ballots and set the voting machines to look for two candidates because the election was narrowing the field down from three to two candidates for the general election. The day after the election she was questioned about the ballots and contacted DeRosa for an opinion.
"I thought what I did was right and the question began to arise throughout the day ... The doubt was put in my mind and I began to question and I looked at the statutes and ordinances and I didn't find anything as far as language goes on the ballot and I immediately called John DeRosa," Gomeau said.
This was the first preliminary election in the city in at least 14 years. Pittsfield has had preliminary elections in the last two cycles to narrow large mayoral fields down to two candidates; in both cases, the ballots instructed voters to select one name.
There have not been any complaints lodged with the city clerk or the secretary of state's office and the issue was brought to light by Gomeau's own volition, DeRosa said.
"We feel we've gotten it right and we technically need to correct it," DeRosa said.
The City Council will now hold an emergency meeting, as early as Wednesday, to adopt a home-rule petition that will validate the results. A total of 460 ballots were deemed illegal but the next runner-up, Robert Martelle, was 535 votes behind so even without the illegal ballots, the same two candidates would move on to the general election. The petition must be approved by the state Legislature before the next election on Nov. 8.
"We are confident this is the right approach," DeRosa said. "We fully expect the Legislature to approve it."
DeRosa said he will be meeting with state officials Monday afternoon and the mayoral election is not expected to be delayed. There are other towns seeking home-rule petitions and the process should move quickly on Beacon Hill, he said.
Alcombright and Boucher both expressed support of Gomeau and believe the error was an honest mistake.
"It's not a big deal. It's not the end of the world and we will keep moving forward," Boucher said.
DeRosa's full opinion and a draft of the home rule petition are available below.
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At least someone got it right eh Tammy?---the Secretary of State's office was useless--as you and I and a clerk from the State Library can attest---how about this-- it seems that neither Ron nor Dick were present at the press conference--OK-- avoids the "appearance of a conflict of interest"---BUT what about the Home Rule petition
coming before the Council? Ron will probably recuse himself from the chair and not speak to the issue-nor vote in it--but what about Dick??
Can he speak to the issue?? and if the Petition is passed by the Council --can the Mayor sign off on it?? I think it ia in the hands of DeRosa for an explanation-eh?
Let me see if I understand this. At each polling place a policeman is stationed at the ballot box to arrest anyone that tampers with A ballot. OK So you can be arrested for tampering with a ballot but someone that tampers will ALL the BALLOTS you call is a mistake ?????? WOW
RealWayne, every time you say something, you lose more credibility. Who, are you saying this was going to benefit? It's all one big conspiracy right? The city clerk made a mistake. It happens. Big deal.
Thousands of men and women have died to keep our right to vote and have our vote count. It takes only one fool to be responsible for having 500 votes thrown out. If the person or persons responsible for this had a conscience they would resign immediately. Or everytime they run into a veteran apologize .
Good lord, you are unbelievable. I've heard some beauties out of you but this one is fantastic! Now the city clerk should resign and apologize to every veteran she passes on the street because she made a mistake. hahahaha
Wayne, I'm so glad you have lived a mistake free life. You must be so wonderful. Please let us know who you really are so we can all worship you and you can show us all how to be perfect, everyday in everything we do.
count. How do you know the difference between Alcombright and Boucher is closer? It could be further apart. You don't know who was voted for on the illegal ballots. If those ballots were mostly for Boucher and Martelle the spread is larger. All they looked at for numbers is the difference between Martelle and Boucher. If there were more illegal ballots than the spread there would be another preliminary. That wasn't the case and the order of winners wouldn't have changed either way.
This was a huge error by the city clerk. Didn't she vote for past preliminaries. Barrett vs Babeu vs Rudd, and Barrett vs Buckley vs Billings. Vote for only ONE. I can't believe not one person who works the elections noticed it. This should have been a simple ballot. She is constantly telling Council President Boucher how to do his job. Yikes!
It's simple really, all you would have to do is tell the North Adams citizens it would cost more money and possibly a raise in taxes to re-vote. Their opinion on a re-vote would sway very quickly (it always does blindly).
Where does NAVoter come up with these numbers. Barrett? How does removing 460 ballots give Ron a 100 vote lead? Is he/she saying the 460 ballots not counted are all Alcombrights? I bet the opposite and more are for Ron. They should leave it as is and keep all votes counted. It won't change the outcome.
Anyone else think the extra cost of this nonsense should come out of the City Clerk's pay? Anyone else think the qualifications for that job should include at least a B in a high school civics class (there are no tests for common sense)? Anyone else feel embarrassed by alerting our legislature that North Adams can't even get their ballots correct?
From I am sorry you see hummer in the fact that veterans have died to protect our right to vote . It is a disgrace even to throw out even one vote. For someone to laugh it off and lightly pass it off as JUST a mistake is sick. That is another thing that vets have died for . People like you to write sick things and call it free speach.
How about first we talk about the fact that the Transcript refuses to print Boucher campaign press releases. This is a fact, and not conjecture. The Boucher campaign sent a PR immediately following the election to this paper. It was not printed. Repeated phone calls and emails are ignored. This is unacceptable. All concerned citizens please speak out. This is also being posted at topix and iberkshires, and we will not rest until this is fixed.
Just becuase a candidate sends a letter or writes material to the press does not require the media to publish it. If they publish every message from a candidate why would they advertise? For the media to be unbias they give each candidate equal space. There was nothing in the Transcript or Iberkshires about Alcombright's dinner nor should there be when Boucher has a dinner. They both had stories with their kick offs. I expect candidates will get interviewed and stories before the election.
Alcombright didn't put out a PR about his dinner and if he did we both know the paper would have published it. And this is not about dinners. Its about issues and positions. The paper will be quick I am sure to print letters criticizing Back to Basics (as they already HAVE) but won't let Ron respond with PRs detailing issue positions which refute that claim. Nice try Side2 nice try
I've listened to your comments far to long to be effected by any of the nonsense you spew on here. My exact comment was...
"Now the city clerk should resign and apologize to every veteran she passes on the street because she made a mistake? hahahaha"
You turn that into me laughing about the fact that veterans have died for our right to vote? ...and then call my comments sick?
No one is buying what you're selling RealWayne. You're just a mean person with nothing better to do with your time than write obnoxious comments on here about good people. Does that make you feel better about yourself?
If Ron wants to get his message out he needs to work at it and not rely on the media to do his campaigning for him. I got a door hanger from Ron and there's not one issue on it. It says he's married, lives in North Adams, and has a job. Big whoop. When he had his kick off he spent his time trashing Alcombright and nothing about how he will make improvements. There will be other opportunities for Ron to read John's verbage and get his message out.
Jay You are very observant. I did misspell a word and you picked up on it so fast. I think you may have missed the mastake the city made by handing out illegal badllots to every voter in the city. You would be taken more seriously if you were not so bias.
Editor: Enough of this. As a bartender might say, take it outside. This is not a place for anonymous posters to insult each other. If you are not commenting on the contents of the above story, I will delete it. -Andy McKeever. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (0)
Alex, any chance as a member of the press you can obtain how many ballots had only the mayor marked, how many had boucher marked and likewise martelle marked?
Also, please note the transcripts admission of not publishing a press release from a candidate the night of an election for 10 days.....I think there is a story here about obvious media bias
Quote from Jen H: "Our press releases are run on a space available basis. We have Mr. Boucher's release and it will run in the next few days. We welcome press releases from any of the candidates who are running and will publish them as space becomes available"
Editor: The election results will not change - the city is asking that the state accept the vote as it stands. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
See below for Transcript attempting to explain why Ron Bouchers Press Releases are not being published...and I response from a citizen calling them on it. Transcript response very weak at best
"Candidate press releases are obviously not the only press materials we receive. While time-sensitive releases receive priority, we have dozens of local organizations patiently waiting for their information to run in the paper.
And please remember, there is more than a mayoral race going on. We have 16 candidates for City Council (two have dropped out of the race) and a race for the North Adams School Committee"
"Jen, I have to comment back. Since the election, you have had 2 candidates announce and you printed that. You have printed maybe 2 or 3 letters to the editor, one of which was criticizing the Back to Basics slogan. And you are telling me you had no room to print a 300 word PR from a mayoral candidate. Sorry, but no one is buying that and you shouldnt be selling it. Who decides what is printed, is it you or the Editor. We know you all lean towards the mayor and can deal with that, just be less obvious. I have not seen the print edition of today's paper, but am thinking the PR is still not there. I advise Ron's campagin to post on these blogs the date and time PRs are submitted. Also, Jen, you have pretty much set yourself up to be accused of bias if another letter from the mayor or mayor supporter gets published first..... "
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