Joey Brunelle has decided not to pursue a recount in the Portland City Council at-large race after receiving assurances from City Hall that the ballots were accurately tallied.

Joey Brunelle, who challenged longtime City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, has decided not to seek a recount. The city’s official results showed Mavodones winning by 714 votes. Staff file photo by Derek Davis

Brunelle announced his decision in a Facebook post Tuesday morning, saying that the City Clerk’s Office informed him that curiosities in the unofficial results, such as 90 percent turnout at one polling location and a single vote for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein at another polling location, were “primarily due to typos and wrong numbers being read off tapes.”

“(It was) not due to any problem with the actual counting of ballots,” Brunelle said. “They furthermore assured me that no vote was discarded due to processing problems after polls closed, and that visual counting occurred when the technology could not process a ballot.”

Brunelle lost to 21-year incumbent Nicholas Mavodones by 702 votes on election night. That margin increased to 714 when the results became official. He requested a recount after six vote-tallying machines broke down, which forced some poll workers to count ballots throughout the night. The unofficial results were not released until after 5 a.m. on Nov. 7.

The city informed Brunelle that it would cost the candidate as much as $7,500 to conduct a citywide recount because the 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent margin was greater than the 1.5 percent threshold to trigger an automatic recount. And the city said he would need to bring 14 people to help count ballots. The city gave him until noon Tuesday to decide whether to proceed.

In addition to his preliminary request for a recount, Brunelle called on the city to conduct an investigation into its voting infrastructure in part to ensure that it had enough voting machines and poll workers to handle elections with high voter turnout.

The city corrected its voter turnout numbers on Tuesday.

The initial reports from the city indicated that last week’s midterm election surpassed the 2016 presidential election turnout. Two polling precincts – East End Community School and Reiche Elementary School – had abnormally high turnouts of nearly 90 percent and 85 percent, respectively, the city said last week. Yet only half as many voters appeared to have cast ballots for governor.

The final, corrected results released by the city Tuesday show that midterm turnout last week was actually 4,500 votes short of the 2016 presidential election – still an unusually high turnout for a midterm election. Last week, 34,082 votes were cast, which was about 60.5 percent of the city’s 56,366 registered voters. And turnout at East End and Reiche was 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

The Portland Press Herald has yet to receive a clarification from City Hall about other issues raised by Brunelle.

“Regardless of that confusion, the outcome of my race was never in doubt,” Brunelle said. “We lost, yes, but I intend to keep fighting for what the people of Portland need – there’s plenty of work to do.”

An advocate for campaign finance reform backed by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America, Brunelle said he would spend some time analyzing campaign finance reports for all City Council and school board candidates. He also hopes to hold a workshop to share what he has learned in his two unsuccessful runs for office in hopes of inspiring others to run for local office.

“Let’s build a bench of informed, principled, truly progressive local leaders who aren’t beholden to corporate interests – and let’s do it together,” he said.