A recount of ballots in two closely contested votes, the tied result on beer and wine sales in Tisbury and the narrow win by Jeff Kristal in the selectman’s race, will take place next Friday.
The Tisbury board of registrars met on Wednesday this week and decided the recount would begin at 2 p.m. at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, with the re-examination of all 1,401 votes cast on the question of whether Tisbury restaurants should be able to sell beer and wine with meals. The machine count on the night of the poll, April 15, scored it at 690 votes in favor and 690 against, with another 21 ballot papers recorded as blanks.
Once that recount is complete, electoral officials will begin the second recount, to determine whether the election of Mr. Kristal should stand. The machine count of that ballot gave him a margin of 14 votes — 679 to 665 — over incumbent selectman Thomas Pachico.
Forty-seven ballots were recorded as blank by the machine, and there were 10 write-ins.
The recount of the Kristal/Pachico vote will begin no earlier than 3 p.m., and possibly somewhat later, depending on progress in the first recount.
Most interest is likely to focus on the first recount, given the greater likelihood of a change in the result, the vested interests and degree of controversy surrounding the issue.
As it stands now, the tied vote counts as a defeat for those who wanted beer and wine.
Under state law any voter who can assemble a petition of 10 or more registered voters can request a recount within 10 days of polling.
Supporters of beer and wine sales wasted no time lodging a petition for a recount last week, on the morning after the vote. Mr. Pachico and his supporters waited two days before putting in their request.
The mechanics of the recount were the major interest at the meeting of the new Tisbury board of selectmen on Tuesday.
Town clerk Marion Mudge told them the recount would be next Thursday or Friday, depending on the availability of all the members of the town’s board of registrars. A meeting of the board the following day determined it will be Friday.
A cast of several dozen people, comprising partisans for both sides of the beer and wine issue and the two candidates for the selectman’s job, and nonpartisan officials, will be on hand
Ms. Mudge told the selectmen she then would contact the parties to both disputed results and ask them to nominate six observers each to oversee the counting process.
Six people will actually do the recounting. They will be divided into three teams of two, one reading the ballots and the other recording the results.
In the event the appointed observers question the interpretation of the way a particular paper was marked, it will be referred to the four registrars for their determination.
And if the registrars — Ms. Mudge, Alden Besse, Beatrice Silva and Catherine Mayhew — are evenly split on their interpretation, the original counter will make the determination.
If the observers still object, the relevant ballot will be set aside in a sealed envelope, pending possible court action. But it will still be recorded in the total.
As well as all the counters, registrars and partisan observers, a constable and a representative of town counsel, Lauren Goldberg, an election law specialist from Koppelman and Paige, will be in attendance.
Ms. Mudge said the ballots have already been separated into 13 bundles of 100 each, and
one of 101, and placed in a locked vault at town hall.
The town clerk said she thought each recount would take about 90 minutes.
The newly constituted board of selectmen to whom Ms. Mudge explained all this included Mr. Kristal, whose election is under challenge.
He was the last of the three to take his seat on the board at Tuesday’s meeting, just a few minutes before the starting time of 5:30 p.m.
The first piece of business was to appoint a new chairman of the board. Tristan Israel moved that Denys Wortman be it, and it was seconded by Mr. Kristal. And so Mr. Wortman ascended to the lofty office, one day shy of his 70th birthday.
There was a brief round of valedictory statements about Mr. Pachico, and congratulatory ones to Mr. Kristal, before they got down to the most pressing business of the moment, the two appeals.
Otherwise, the meeting was mostly a series of reports back by various town officials.
Department of Public Works director Fred LaPiana noted with appreciation the town’s strong support for the project he has championed, restoring Veterans’ Memorial Park, and said he anticipated work on the $500,000 project would begin after Labor Day, be largely finished within four to six weeks, and ready to use within a year.
The only heat at the meeting came from the fire chief, John Schilling, who complained that the planning board’s strategic plan for the town had been changed in ways which had not been communicated to other departments. This, he said, was causing grief for his department from parents concerned that plans for the future location of the fire station presented a threat to the school.
The evolving plan will be presented at a public hearing next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tisbury senior center.
Results of the Tisbury recount will be posted on the Gazette Web site Friday (mvgazette.com) as soon as they are available.