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Hand recount confirms Select Board, Town Meeting results of June election

Michaiah Healy, Select Board candidate, 2020 photoHealy: 6,190

Lenard Diggins, Select Board candidate, 2020Diggins: 6,265

UPDATED, July 10: The town website reports the following results of the hand recount: Diane Mahon, 6,680; Len Diggins, 6,265 (two fewer than June); and Michaiah Healy, 6,190 (two more than June).

This confirms the June 6 Select Board winners, Mahon and Diggins. See the Town Meeting recount results in Precincts 6 and 17 here >>

In 6, Laura Kiesel received 24 votes in the official returns June 6, and that number dropped in the recount to 13. In 17, Xavid Pretzer had 167 in the official June 6 count, and that number was the same in the recount.

The Board of Registrars had set the date for the hand recount Thursday, July 9. Counting had been expected to continue for about seven hours.

The process of organizing the ballots began at 9 a.m. in Town Hall. The hand-counting of ballots was to start at 10:30 a.m.

The public could observe from the balcony and were asked to wear face coverings. The  number of people in the balcony may have to be limited to allow everyone to maintain safe spacing and not to exceed 25 percent of the capacity of the balcony, an earlier town announcement said. On July 9, between 3:30 and 4:30, YourArlington's publish sat alone in the balcony.

Each candidate had the right to attend the recount and to bring additional representatives to act as observers at the counting tables. Among those observed on the floor of Town Hall on June 9 were Diggins, Healy and Kiesel.

Citing an "extremely tight margin coupled with reports of significant voting irregularities in the June 6 local elections," citizen group Arlington Fights Racism said in a news release June 13 that it was assisting in seeking a  recount on behalf of Select Board candidate Healy and two Town Meeting candidates.

According to the official tally, the difference between the two Select Board candidates has been reduced to 79 votes, from 88.

A notice on the town website says: "Planning a recount that includes health and safety precautions for all attendees is a priority. This year, the clerk is publishing official results before the recount so that a new report may be published after the recount for the affected races."

Town Clerk Juli Brazile has been asked for comment and an estimate of the cost of the recount.

Official results 

Official results add in the votes for write-in candidates, overseas ballots and votes that were recorded by election workers on the "hand tally" of the ballot if the machine was unable to interpret the votes because of, for example, stray marks. Official results are not usually produced before the 10-day window for overseas ballots to arrive.

See the official summary results >> 

See the official results by precinct >> 

The official numbers increased the turnout to 35.12 percent, from 34.8  percent. Since 2000, the turnout for town elections has averaged about 21 percent.

In the news release, the petitioners said they asked election officials to postpone certifying the results of the races until the recount is completed. A representative of the group said June 15 that the petitions are complete and signed by the candidates.

Brazile reported June 16 that the recount petition has been filed. The signatures must be certified, and then  the registrars must schedule the recount, she said.

According to a guide from Secretary of State Galvin, a petition seeking a recount signed by 10 or more registered voters must be filed by 5 p.m. on the 10th day following a town election. Only candidates for an office to be recounted may petition for a recount. A petition must be filed in each precinct affected.

Healy response

Asked whether she initiated the recount petition, Healy told YourArlington on June 16:

"I did not initiate the petition for the recount. There were a number of Arlington residents that initiated it, but not all have an affiliation or association with AFR. This is the work of Arlingtonians. AFR provided support for this effort."

The other candidates involved appear to be write-ins Maura Klein Collins (28) and Laura Kiesel (24), in Precinct 6, and John Finochetti (173) and Xavid Pretzer (167), in Precinct 17.

Brazile reported June 22 that Kiesel and Pretzer are the petitioners for the Town Meeting races in 6 and 17, respectively, and that Healy filed forms for each precinct. Kiesel has been asked to comment; YourArlington does not have contact information for Pretzer.

The clerk's office has requested $10,000 for the recount, Town Manager Adam Chadelaine wrote June 19.

"I can't estimate the cost until the Registrars agree on the staffing needs, outside counsel, etc.," Brazile wrote June 22, "We have set aside $10,000, and we hope that covers it. The Registrars will meet this week to discuss scheduling the recount."

Mahon responded to the Arlington email list June 22: that Town Counsel Doug Heim told her that the town pays for a recount. "There’s no provision for assessing costs to anyone in the law," she wrote, referring to a news story about a Beverly recount highlighting the issue >>

Arlington last held a recount in 1997, after the vote to build seven schools lost by 16 tallies. After a recount, the difference in the vote was 32.

June 14, 2020: Citizen group aids candidates in seeking recount; plea received

June 7, 2020: New faces elected to town boards after added 2 months of contention

Dec. 4, 2019, through June 6, 2020: 2020 town election background 

This news summary was published Friday, June 19, 2020. It was updated June 20, to correct those running in Precinct 17; June 22, to add comment by Brazile; June 25, to add recount date; June 26, to add that it is hand recount; and July 10. 

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