By Andy McKeever On: 12:48PM / Thursday October 06, 2011
With council President (and mayoral candidate) Ronald Boucher recusing himself from the discussion, council Vice President Lisa Blackmer presided at the emergency meeting.
City Solicitor John DeRosa said the petition would uphold the election results.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council passed a home-rule petition Wednesday to uphold the preliminary mayoral election results after 460 ballots were deemed illegal.
The ballots for the preliminary election held on Sept. 28 erroneously instructed voters to select up to two candidates, which 460 voters did. However, voting for more candidates than there are seats to be elected violates state law.
Following the election, City Solicitor John DeRosa rendered an opinion that even if those votes were not counted, the same two candidates would have received the most votes and, therefore, the results could be upheld by an act through the state Legislature.
"Even if you didn't count 460 votes, the results would be the same," DeRosa told city councilors Wednesday. "What you do tonight will let the vote stand."
The home-rule petition will validate the election results instead of forcing the city to hold a second election or to throw out the ballots of 460 voters. The petition is expected to be shipped overnight to state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, to be filed on Beacon Hill.
The city solicitor said there was precedence for the action and did not see any problems in getting legislative approval. The home-rule petition process gives municipalities some "built in flexibility" because technical and clerical errors can occur, he said.
Councilor Michael Bloom asked what the petition means for the vote totals and DeRosa said the totals would remain. The ballots, which are currently stored in the city safe, have not and will not be recounted unless a candidate asks for a recount, DeRosa said.
"We don't want to change, to subtract or add," DeRosa said.
The totals of 1,105 for Richard Alcombright, 741 for Ronald Boucher and 216 for Robert Martelle will be the official results. Alcombright, the incumbent, and Boucher will move on to the general election in November.
"We went through this from every conceivable mathematical way," DeRosa said. "We are quite comfortable we got it right."
City Council candidate Robert Cardimino voiced opposition to the petition and called it unconstitutional to "throw the votes out." However, the petition actually approves the illegal votes, which means 460 people got to vote for two candidates.
The council approved 7-0 with Boucher recusing himself — and sitting in the gallery — and Marie Harpin absent.
DeRosa said City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau contacted his office the day after the election with her concerns. The error was an "honest mistake" but one that he said had not caused "irreparable damage."
"There is no question that this is a good-faith error," DeRosa said. "Sometimes honest people make honest mistakes."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
If I were the editor of the Transcript or iBerkshires, I'd take this as a threat, and call it out as such in an editorial.
Strong arm tactics don't work, Bud. You have some learnin' to do. The Transcript is under NO obligation to print anything, and iBerkshires will quickly stop tolerating your hijacking of comment threads.
If you are any indication of the caliber of Boucher's organization, he doesn't stand a chance of being elected. Smarten up.
Bob means well and "cares" (is that intentional use of AA language on his signs?) but Bob has no clue what is happening half the time and too often proposes things that would result in the exact opposite of what he desires.
Bob wants lower taxes but Bob wants to invalidate the election if the city tosses votes.
To rerun the election would cost $6000 and nothing would change short of a Martelle miracle.
Bob wants a lot of things, but doesn't seem to understand the cost of a single one of them.
Editor: 1) Unless there is a recount or a complaint filed with the state elections division, the ballots cannot be touched.
2) It doesn't matter which ballots had only one vote - the city is asking that ALL the votes be considered legitimate. I Agree (3) - I Disagree (1)
I do not understand why observe is asking for inormation already stated in iberkshires report.
I am also curious as to why the words used for security measure, are so shall we say peculiar -- hard to read.
I don't get what all of the conflict is about. No matter how the ballots are counted, Alcombright and Boucher advance to the final election. In the final election a much larger body of voters are likely to come out, as evidenced two years ago, when three times the number of people voted as did in this year's preliminary. No matter what the "actual" tally is, the result in November can't be predicted by this preliminary vote.
Tonight on slingshot a caller blamed the mayor for the election errors. Mr Cardimino responded with nothing. If he is running for city council he should know the mayor is not responsible for the city clerk nor can he fire her. She falls under the responsibility of the city council. Mr. Cardimino continued to cry foul and said all the votes should be counted. He needs to turn up his hearing aid. THE CITY COUNCIL IS REQUESTING FOR THE STATE TO APPROVE ALL THE VOTES, INCLUDING THOSE WHO VOTED FOR TWO. Cardimino wants another election. He says it's simple. Now $9000 of tax payers money is nothing to him? He also said if he gets on the council he will allow people like himself to talk for as long as they want. GOD HELP US.
saveus The caller was correct . The mayor is responsible for anything that happens in the city. That is part of the job. It seems that for almost two years we have not had a real leader in the city. It is time for someone that can lead not just follow. VOTE RON
Wayne -Considering that I've finally figured out from cable TV that you are the guy who sits silently next to Cardimino every city council meeting, I would expect you to know that Marilyn reports to the council, specifically to its President, Ron Boucher. If you really want to play "the buck stops here" look no further than Ron as the person who should consider what to do with Marilyn, or not.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.