School Committee election recount does little to change results

By Douglas McCulloch | May 08, 2017

Dartmouth’s first election recount in 15 years did little to change the outcome of the School Committee election results.

At the request of ousted School Committee member Chris Garth, paper ballots from the April 4 race were recounted by hand for precincts 6, 7, and 9. Again, newcomer Kathleen Amaral and incumbent Carol Karafotis secured the two open seats.

Amaral gained two votes for a 1,820 total; Karafotis lost six votes, totalling 2,195. Garth’s total 1,783 votes remained unchanged.

On May 8, election workers examined each ballot to verify it was recorded correctly. State law and legal precedent dictate how officials should interpret contested ballot marks, like the use of X's and O's, the use of diagonal marks, and crosses that spread across multiple columns. For example, if the apex of a cross falls within a candidate's box, it is treated as a vote for that candidate, but if it falls on the line separating two candidates' names, it is treated as blank.

Garth said he submitted the request for a recount because he had concerns with the town’s new electronic voting machines and their accuracy in very close elections.

“Now in the next close election, we know what to expect,” he said after the votes were tallied.

Amaral was surprised when she first heard that the recount was happening.

“It is [Garth’s] right to do that,” she said before the vote. “I just wanted to show respect for the process.”

Garth planned to have eight of Dartmouth’s nine voting precincts recounted, but did not secure the 10 registered voters’ signatures necessary from each precinct for the recount. He did not plan to have Precinct No. 3 recounted, because of it includes the university and had low voter turnout.

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