After losing a seat on the South Portland City Council by 58 votes, Kate Lewis is seeking a recount.

The voting tally from the Nov. 8 election puts her behind incumbent Maxine Beecher and Susan Henderson for the two at-large seats on the council. Lewis sent a message to City Clerk Emily Scully on Thursday, Nov. 10, requesting the recount in the seven-way council race for two seats.

“My rationale in seeking the recount is not because I’m hoping to emerge as the winner,” Lewis said in her written communication with Scully. But, she said, “I have fielded enough telephone calls about the voting machines not working on Nov. 8 and from community members and leaders all over the political spectrum, that (I see) this is an opportunity to ensure that our systems are functioning properly.”

She said the only way the city can be absolutely sure of the outcome is to conduct a formal recount. Lewis called the difference in votes between herself and Henderson as a “razor-thin” margin.

“If I do happen to emerge as the winner, we have some work to do to scrutinize our voting system,” Lewis told Scully in her request for a recount. “If the vote count stands, I will be relieved and grateful to the top two candidates for their leadership.”

Scully said this week the recount is tentatively scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, at City Hall. She said each candidate is required to provide eight ballot counters each, who will hand count the votes in batches of 50.

Scully said the recount would be done at no cost to the city and that her only role is to oversee the recount process. She said difficulty is only likely to arise if there is a discrepancy or a ballot is contested. In that case, Scully said, officials would do their best to divine the voter’s intent.

Henderson is not upset about the recount request. She said it’s simply “a due process issue” adding that “it’s (Lewis’) right” to ask for the ballots to be reviewed.

“I am hopeful the result will remain the same, but we just need to wait and see,” she said.

– Kate Irish Collins

Kate Lewis