New Bedford Ward 4 Recount Taking Place Monday Night
This Monday night will mark the official recount of the Ward 4 ballots from the November 7th election.
Defeated candidate Joseph "Jo Jo" Fortes lost to incumbent Dana Rebeiro by 48 votes, and says he filed for the recount because he was asked to do so by the voters who backed him. The recount will take place at 6 pm Monday in the Ashley Room at City Hall.
"It's really an involved process, actually," Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito told WBSM's Phil Paleologos. "There will be a large group of people that take part, to make sure the recount runs smoothly."
DeBritto and the other members of the Election Committee will be present. He says city workers will bring the ballots to the Ashley Room for the recount.
"All the ballots have still been locked away in the vault," he said. "We haven't been able to access them due to the recount, so everything stays locked up until the day of the recount, pretty much right up until that moment."
There will also be two police officers, city workers, and both candidates will be present in the room for the recall. The candidates' legal counsel, as well as the City Solicitor, will also be in attendance. Each candidate is also permitted to bring one other person to serve as an observer, to potentially challenge ballots and work as an inspector.
Debrito says there are 2,290 ballots that must be hand-counted, in blocks of 50, and it should take a couple of hours. He estimates the recount will cost the city about $6,000.
The voting process itself, however, is digital.
"Basically, you fill out your ballot, slide it in, it gets scanned into the system, the system reads it, and it's all digital. None of it is manual," DeBrito said. "There was no manual counting at all, despite a couple of reports otherwise. That's not how it's done."
DeBrito also said that unless there was a malfunction of one of the voting machines, he thinks the original count is accurate.
"There may be a few issues where the selection wasn't clear, but I think all the machines are set up to read whatever is closest and kind of determine what the vote is," he said. "There will be some ballots that will be challenged, and we'll have to make a determination on what our best estimate is, as far as who the voter was voting for, and kind of go from there. I really don't know that digitally doing it and now manually doing it will change a lot of the outcome."
The public is welcome to attend the recount, but they won't be allowed in the Ashley Room and will have to wait in the hallway, quietly.
"We need complete silence," DeBrito said. "We want the counts to be correct, especially since we're doing it manually. That's the real challenge."