SOUTH PORTLAND — A hand recount of the ballots cast in last week’s at-large City Council race has been scheduled for Friday at City Hall, and the two candidates whose standing is in question are expected to provide eight counters each for the daylong job.
Kate Lewis, a political newcomer who came in third in a seven-way race for two at-large seats, requested the recount to test the accuracy of “relatively new” vote-counting machines.
It wasn’t clear when the results might be announced.
Lewis received 4,381 votes – or 19 percent of total votes cast – which is 58 votes behind second-place finisher Susan Henderson, another political newcomer, who received 4,439 votes, or 20 percent. The top vote-getter was incumbent Maxine Beecher, who received 5,200 votes, or 23 percent.
The recount is due to start at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the council chamber and will likely take most of the day, said City Clerk Emily Scully.
Under state law and rules of the Secretary of State’s Office, Lewis and Henderson are the “designated recount candidates” and only their vote totals will be recounted, Scully said. Vote totals for the other candidates in the race will remain the same as indicated on Election Day.
Lewis and Henderson each must supply eight counters, who cannot be candidates, city employees or elected officials of South Portland.
The candidates may ask city election workers to serve as counters, but the city isn’t responsible for paying them or for ensuring their all-day attendance, Scully said.
The counters will work in teams and count the ballots in lots of 50. With about 15,000 ballots to recount, that means the counters will be handling about 300 lots of 50 ballots each, Scully said. The count will be coordinated so representatives of each candidate will review and count all ballots.
“The rules do not state that the city has to cover the expense of these ballot counters for the candidates,” Scully said in an email to the candidates. “But you can see that it is in the candidates’ best interest to choose their own counters.”
Scully said Henderson notified her Monday that she had found eight volunteers who are willing to spend Friday hand-counting ballots.
Henderson, 74, is a retired nurse and nursing professor who has been active in Protect South Portland, a local environmental group.
Lewis, 40, is development director at Greater Portland Landmarks and vice president of the South Portland Land Trust.
Scully said she will hire eight recount assistants to help with the recount process. She’ll pay them $10 per hour for about eight hours, which is about $640, plus legal fees for the city attorney’s assistance.
Security measures will be taken to ensure the outcome of the recount, Scully said. A guardrail enclosure will be installed to separate the recount area from the public viewing area. Candidates and other members of the public must remain outside the recount area.
Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: