WINDHAM — Town officials are standing by the recent general election process, saying the community’s voting day was handled correctly, was organized and transparent.
This comes after a state recount of Windham’s Rockingham County District 7 state representative race, where the outcome did not change but numbers showed some disparities between the town and the state’s tallies.
Enough so that town officials are concerned.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting Nov. 16, election officials described the election day process, saying it was a successful day with all procedures followed according to the law.
Windham voters cast ballots Nov. 3 to choose four state representatives, with the top vote counts going to the four Republican candidates, Mary Griffin, Charles McMahon, Robert Lynn and Julius Soti.
Four Democratic candidates were also on the ballot, including Kristi St. Laurent.
With more than 10,000 ballots cast in town, St. Laurent took the fifth spot on the list, with only 24 votes separating her from Soti’s winning number.
That led to the recount Nov. 12.
Town Clerk Nicole Bottai said with that 24-vote difference between Soti and St. Laurent, the recount was expected and planned. The state contacted the town and took the ballots as part of the recount process.
Once the recount was done, the GOP win for all four state representative seats remained the same, with candidates picking up additional votes.
That included Soti earning another 297 votes according to the recount, but Laurent ended up losing 99 votes according to the state’s tallies.
The three remaining Democrats earned additional votes, ranging from 18 to 28.
The state notified Windham of the discrepancy in numbers between recount and town.
Bottai said the entire election day team did their job and if there had been a problem that day, it would have been discovered.
“We had no concerns with any of our machines that day,” she said, adding everyone did what was required to ensure a smooth, correct election process.
“We would have seen a problem immediately,” Bottai said. “If there was a discrepancy, it would have been evident as we were working through those numbers. If there was a discrepancy we would have stopped everything.”
Bottai did not attend the recount, but Assistant Moderator Betty Dunn did attend. She told Selectmen she is convinced Windham had a well-run election and numbers added up on election night.
“I’m still convinced what we did was correct,” Dunn said. “Everyone was scratching their heads and asking questions. We couldn’t come up with a reason why this kind of a scope of discrepancy is there.”
Dunn said unless it’s proven that somehow the town made an error, she stands by election day and all involved.
“We did our jobs and we did it well,” she said.
Selectmen agreed to craft a letter to send to the state’s election bureau to try and find a solution to what may have happened and where blame, if any, lies.
“To look into the election,” Selectman Bruce Breton said, “all parts, the town side, the state side, the electronic side. The state can go through all aspects about what’s going on.”
Bottai said at the end of the day, officials are baffled.
“We want answers,” she said. “We want to know at this point what now, what can we do? We want to prove ourselves.”