SOUTH PORTLAND — Susan Henderson kept her seat as a city councilor-elect after Friday’s hand recount of last week’s election results.

In the new tally, Henderson, who was the second-place finisher in a seven-way race for two at-large seats, received 50 more votes than Kate Lewis, who was the third-place finisher.

Lewis, who called for the recount, signed a document accepting the new results as final, as did Henderson.

“I wanted the count to be right,” Lewis said after hearing the results.

According to the official Election Day results, Henderson received 56 more votes than Lewis, with a count of 4,440 to 4,384 and a total of 8,824 votes cast for the two candidates.

On Friday, the count was 4,495 to 4,445, with a 50-vote margin in favor of Henderson and a total of 8,942 votes cast – a 118-vote increase from the Election Day total.

City Clerk Emily Scully attributed the increase in total votes for the two candidates to absentee ballots with “overvotes” or other errors that scanned as “blanks” when passed through the city’s electronic vote-counting machines.

In this particular election, a typical “overvote” occurred when a voter filled in the oval beside more than two candidates. Under state recount rules, if it was apparent that the voter had crossed out an error and it was clear that the person intended to vote for Henderson or Lewis, then those votes were added to the recount tally, Scully said.

Set up in the council chamber at City Hall, recount workers reviewed 15,042 municipal ballots but only tallied votes for Henderson and Lewis.

Results for the other five candidates in the race will stand as previously counted on Election Day. The top vote-getter was incumbent Maxine Beecher, who received 5,203 votes.

Henderson and Lewis each provided eight counters as required under state regulations, and Scully hired eight recount assistants to help with the process.

The city paid the recount assistants $10 per hour and city attorney Sally Daggett was there throughout to make sure everything was done according to law.

The recount started at 8:30 a.m. and the results were announced at 3 p.m.

In conceding the election, Lewis said she thought Henderson would be a fine councilor.

Lewis, 40, is development director at Greater Portland Landmarks and vice president of the South Portland Land Trust.

Henderson, 74, is a retired nurse and nursing professor who has been active in Protect South Portland, a local environmental group.

Henderson said she was thankful for everyone who volunteered for the recount and who voted for her. “I’m happy,” she said.

During the recount, 36 state ballots were discovered among the municipal ballots, Scully said. Those ballots will be securely packaged and returned with other state ballots to the Secretary of State’s Office for the anticipated recount of two state ballot initiatives.

Scully said separating state and municipal ballots is more difficult now because they all must be printed on white paper in order to be scanned by the new counting machines. In the past, municipalities purposely used colored ballots to differentiate them from state ballots.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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