By Ramona du Houx
Cathy Breen was named the winner of the contested Maine Senate District 25 seat after Cathy Manchester conceded the election. More than six hours of testimony was heard during the Senate’s special elections committee before Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State, and a detective from the Attorney General’s office opened the police-guarded ballot box from Long Island and reconciled the ballots with the ballot tally sheet. The examination revealed a total of 171 ballots--not the 192 claimed at the recount. It turned out that the 21 phantom ballots were counted twice during the recount.
“I want to thank the committee for their dogged pursuit of the facts that helped us get to the bottom of the mystery on Long Island. I am grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support from the voters in my district and for Democratic leadership who stood up for the integrity of the electoral process,” said Senator-elect Cathy Breen of Falmouth “Today’s answers will allow us to move forward and get to work on the issues that are important to Mainers.”
“As legislators one of the most important jobs we have is to preserve the integrity of the electoral system. This was never a political issue for us. It was about getting to the bottom of what happened to cause these voter irregularities,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of York, who led the Democrats on the special committee. “We knew something wasn’t right and today is a vindication for all of us who stood our ground and stood up for voter integrity.”
The committee wrapped up after they agreed to a total recount of all the Long Island votes. The recount was led by Senator Bill Diamond, former Secretary of State and Senator Tom Saviello. The recount once again confirmed a total of 171 ballots with a breakdown of 95 ballots for Cathy Breen, 65 ballots for Cathy Manchester and 11 ballots that were blank.
“Today’s investigation allowed us to find the answers we needed to solve this mystery,” said Senator Bill Diamond of Windham. “It is reassuring to know that the system held up and that voters can once again have confidence that all votes count--and count only once.”
Democrats have been calling for an investigation since 21 untraceable or “phantom ballots” appeared at the recount of the SD 25 race but Republicans refused to keep the recount open forcing the investigation to go to the Senate’s special committee. These 21 ballots push the total number of ballots cast in the SD 25 race to 192 ballots--yet there were only 171 voters who voted according to the Long Island voter manifest.
The 7-member legislative committee includes Democratic Senators Dawn Hill, Bill Diamond, and Stan Gerzofsky and Republican Senators Roger Katz, Tom Saviello, Garrett Mason, Andre Cushing.
It is expected that the Senate will consider the committee’s recommendation when it reconvenes on January 7.