Tisbury Split Down the Middle

The good people of Vineyard Haven fought to a draw last week in the collective duel over whether to allow beer and wine sales in restaurants.

It was by all accounts an extraordinary outcome — six hundred and ninety votes to six hundred and ninety votes — which now will be recounted at the formal request of the group which supports the measure, made up in large part by restaurant and business owners.

The question of election irregularities also remains to be put to bed.

Tisbury town clerk Marion Mudge disclosed immediately following the election last week that a stack of pre-marked ballots had been accidentally distributed to voters. The pre-marked ballots, which are used to test the voting machine before the polls open, had been placed in a back room by the town clerk. Ms. Mudge explained she had intended to put the pre-marked ballots in a case but became distracted on an extremely busy day, when the town saw a record turnout of voters. During heavy voting, the paper ballots ran out; an election worker went looking for more and grabbed the stack of pre-marked ballots.

The error was discovered immediately, and Ms. Mudge is confident that all the pre-marked ballots were retrieved.

The town clerk is to be commended for her quick, frank and open disclosure of the events that happened at the annual town election on Tuesday. It is clear that this was simply a human error, and the town clerk took full responsibility for the matter, a refreshing thing in this day when ducking, finger-pointing and that old favorite — press bashing — are so much more the norm among public officials.

Good for Marion Mudge. Tisbury is lucky to have her, and her conduct last week inspires confidence that the recount — which will be held on May 2, will be handled in a professional, above-board manner.

Meanwhile, the town — and the whole Island, which has watched this issue closely — awaits the outcome on Question Four.