Military, overseas ballots may have shifted outcome in Maine race
Portland Press Herald
PORTLAND, Maine — A new winner has emerged in York County's House District 137 election, with military and overseas ballots tipping the vote in favor of incumbent Alan Casavant.
Casavant, a three-term Democratic representative who also is Biddeford's mayor, appeared to be the loser Nov. 6, trailing Republican William Guay of Kennebunkport by 22 votes.
But when the state finished counting military and overseas ballots three days later, Casavant had 15 more votes than Guay, who has requested a recount.
The House District 137 race is one of 10 across the state that will be recounted and one of two that got new winners after military and overseas absentee ballots were counted.
The recount for the Casavant-Guay race has not yet been scheduled, but it likely will be held early next week, said Megan Sanborn, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office.
Results in House District 70, which covers parts of Auburn and Lewiston, also were reversed after military and overseas ballots were counted. Democrat R. Wayne Werts now leads Republican Bruce Bickford by two votes.
Losers of state races have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to request recounts.
Regular absentee ballots are counted by local officials on Election Day. Ballots for uniformed military personnel and voters who are overseas are counted by the Secretary of State's Office, which starts counting after the polls close and continues until all ballots are counted.
Even before military and overseas ballots were counted for House District 137, the race appeared to be in flux.
Guay's 22-vote lead was narrowed when Biddeford City Clerk Carmen Morris discovered that 15 ballots from Ward 3 — the only Biddeford ward in the district — had been incorrectly inserted into ballot counting machines for other wards in the city.
Guay, a small-business owner from Kennebunkport, said he was not surprised by the close race.
"It's disappointing to go from winning to losing, but the important thing now is to make sure all the votes are counted accurately," he said. "We want to make sure everyone's vote counts and that, win or lose, it's right and real."
Sanborn said the state received 3,000 military and overseas ballots, twice as many as in other years. Thirty-seven of those ballots were cast by voters from Biddeford and Kennebunkport.
In House District 137, 15 military and overseas voters went for Casavant and 10 voted for Guay. Two ballots in the district were left blank.
After the military and overseas ballots were counted, Casavant had 2,579 votes to Guay's 2,564, according to Sanborn.
Casavant said Guay informed him of the new outcome.
"I was stunned," he said Tuesday from Augusta, where he was caucusing with House Democrats. "I've never seen anything that close."
Like Guay, Casavant said he wasn't surprised by the close race. He called Guay the "hardest opponent" he has faced.
"He proved over and over he is a class act," Casavant said. "It was a huge challenge, so I feel good coming out on top."
Uniformed service voters include active duty military personnel and their dependents; voters in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines; and commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.
Overseas voters are U.S. citizens who are, or would be, eligible to vote in Maine before leaving the country.