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Write-in volume may delay Cape Elizabeth election results

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Write-in volume may delay Cape Elizabeth election results

CAPE ELIZABETH — In anticipation of a large number of write-in ballots for a seat on the School Board, Town Clerk Debra Lane said she may not have the results of the municipal election on Nov. 2.

"My sense is that there are going to be a tremendous amount of write-ins," she told the Town Council on Oct. 13.

There are two seats available on  the School Board, but only one resident returned nomination papers and will be on the ballot. Since then, several residents have launched write-in campaigns and Lane said each ballot with a write-in vote will have to be counted by hand.

"I'm not sure it's reasonable to ask staff to stay until one, two, three in the morning to count ballots," she said. "I'll know better during that day how things are looking."

She said it is going to be a long day for volunteers, "and some folks just don't function well after midnight."

Lane said she will announce on Election Day if the municipal results will be counted that night or in the morning, and encouraged residents to look to the town website for results instead of calling Town Hall.

Councilors did not question Lane's announcement. Chairwoman Anne Swift-Kayatta said she expects a heavy turnout this election because of the gubernatorial race and understands the counting process could take a lot of time.

"Because the ballots for the write-in campaign need to be hand-counted carefully and specifically, it may take a while," Swift-Kayatta said. "I am confident that the town clerk, the assistant town clerk, the election wardens and volunteers will do a good job and be precise. I am confident that the results will be posted as soon as they can. We must remember these people will have been there since 6 a.m. and it is up to the clerk to decide how late she keeps them."

Swift-Kayatta said the council is confident that Lane and her volunteers will have the results as soon as reasonably possible.

There are 7,650 registered voters in Cape Elizabeth.

In South Portland, City Clerk Susan Mooney said she will have all ballots counted on the night of Nov. 2.

"We always finish that night, although we were here until 1 a.m. one time," she said.

Mooney said of the nearly 18,000 registered voters in South Portland, she expects about 12,000 voters on Nov. 2 because of the gubernatorial election.

She said she schedules volunteers according to the type of election: off-season, gubernatorial or presidential. There will be about 45 people working at the polls Nov. 2 and 15 to 20 volunteers at City Hall to count absentee ballots.

Although South Portland also has a formal write-in candidate for its School Board, Mooney expects only a few hundred write-in ballots will be cast.

Freeport Town Clerk Bev Curry said although it is hard to do the most important counting at the end of the night when people are tired, she has always finished and tallied the results that night. During a recent election, Curry said she and volunteers had to hand-count about 1,500 ballots for the Regional School Unit 5 board election.

"We just did it," she said. "It was a long night, but we did it."

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said municipalities have three days to report municipal election results to the state.

Tabulations for statewide offices and ballot questions must be reported on Election Night, but municipal results can be delayed, Flynn said. 

To view the 2010 election frequently asked questions and watch Lane's report to the Town Council, visit capeelizabeth.com.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net