AUGUSTA — A recount has been scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12, in the election to represent Maine Senate District 7, which includes South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and part of Scarborough.
Unofficial results on election night had incumbent Sen. Lawrence Bliss, D-South Portland, clinging to a 64-vote advantage over Republican challenger Joseph Palmieri, a radio personality and business owner.
Both candidates, who live in South Portland, were confident on Tuesday that they would be declared the winner after the ballots are recounted.
“I am confident the 64 votes will hold up and I will return to the Senate,” said Bliss, who carried Cape Elizabeth 2,646 to 2,492 and South Portland 5,669 to 5,353.
But Palmieri said he is sure to pick up additional votes in Scarborough, which he carried by a more than 400 votes, 1,240 to 833, and gain ground through contested and absentee ballots.
“This isn’t over,” he said. “You could see a change on Friday.”
If the results do change, it would fly in the face of history.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said there have been 131 recounts of state and county races since 1980, but only 10 outcomes have been overturned.
“Very rarely do races get overturned in a recount, but it does happen,” Dunlap said.
The recount will start at 8 a.m. at the Maine State Police headquarters in Augusta, Dunlap said, and will probably last all day.
State troopers were sent polling locations in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough shortly after Palmieri formally requested a recount on Thursday. They collected the ballots, which were locked and sealed on election night.
Dunlap said those boxes will be opened in Augusta and the more than 18,000 ballots will be recounted by hand.
Each candidate will appoint people to oversee the recount and the state parties are providing attorneys to sort out any contested ballots, the candidates said.
Since the margin of victory is less than 2 percent of the total number of votes cast, Palmieri will not have to pay for the recount, Dunlap said.
Palmieri, meanwhile, said he owes it to his supporters to verify the results.
“I think we owe it to everybody to see if these were the real numbers,” he said.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.