Select Board results unchanged after recount in Bennington

Margin in close race expands from 3 to 5 votes

Posted

BENNINGTON — Incumbents Jeannie Jenkins and Jeanne Conner and newcomer Bill Scully have been declared elected to the Select Board after an approximately three-hour ballot recount process Friday afternoon.

Select Board candidate Bruce Lee-Clark requested the recount after losing to Jenkins by three votes, as the numbers were reported Tuesday night. Friday's recount revealed that Lee-Clark lost to Jenkins by five votes— Jenkins received 1,145 while Lee-Clark received 1,140. It was also determined that Conner received 1,149 votes and Scully received 1,185.

The recount was held Friday at 3 p.m. at a conference room in Bennington's town offices. With several members of the public present, seven members of the Board of Civil Authority and Town Clerk Cassandra Barbeau carefully reviewed the ballots by hand, and then by machine. Approximately 2,040 ballots were cast.

If a ballot was not accepted by the machine, Barbeau asked permission from the present members of the Board of Civil Authority to either darken ballot bubbles that were too light, or discount an illegitimate vote. For example, one voter marked two circles on one ballot box that requested that only one circle be marked. The board decided to feed it through the machine still, but not count that ballot item that was improperly marked. Another voter clearly marked three choices for Select Board candidates, but the marks were not dark enough for the machine to properly read it, so Barbeau was given permission to darken the marks.

"There were several ballots that we believed needed further review by the board rather than being counted by the machine, so those totals were added to the machine total at the end of the process," Barbeau clarified in a Friday evening email.

Barbeau believes the last time Bennington performed a recount was in 2009, when George Sleeman was elected to the Bennington School District Board with 42 write-in votes.

After the initial election results were announced Tuesday night, Lee-Clark originally expressed hesitancy as to whether he would request a recount of ballots. However, the following day he announced on social media that he had decided to request the recount.

"In order to put to rest any doubts about the outcome in [Tuesday's] election which was among the closest in recent memory, I have officially requested a recount of the ballots from the town clerk," Lee-Clark wrote Wednesday. "Three votes is just too close."

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.

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