Don’t Count on Recount Making a Difference in New Bedford’s Ward 1 [PHIL-OSOPHY]
If Leo Choquette, the challenger for New Bedford Ward 1 City Councilor who lost Tuesday to incumbent William Brad Markey, turns in the official papers asking for a formal recount, it will be a stretch to overturn his 44-vote loss.
"Before these voting machines, that tend to be fairly accurate, recounts could turn around an election. Unless the voting machine reads the ballot wrong, it's usually dependable," remarked Peter Barney, a 35-year veteran of City Hall as a treasurer and administrative assessor, and a candidate who was party to two recounts. "Forty-four votes is in the upper end of possible, but it seems a little too far from turning over the results."
If you were in Choquette's shoes, what would you do?
"If that were me, I might also ask for a recount because the people who voted for you expect you to," Barney said. "Leo's supporters want him to go the extra yard, and pleasing them is paramount for his political future. Besides, as the candidate, you want to personally see what's actually written on the ballots, The voting machine won't pick up a write-in vote or a check mark next to the name."
Historically, recounts tend to fall towards the winner, not the loser. If you're ahead, the re-tallying of votes normally doesn't run against the candidate who's ahead. Barney has been in a couple of election recounts. One came down to 66 votes, but Barney said there were 23,000 or more votes cast in that election, a far cry from the recent Ward 1 race.
The closest election in New Bedford was around 50 years ago when Dorothy Carney edged out Pat Callahan by just five votes, out of about 25,000 votes cast. The recount didn't change the results significantly.
"Mr. Choquette did swing by and took the form to fill out, and has until November 12 to turn in the papers," said New Bedford Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito.
The average cost to the taxpayers for a recount will be between $3,000 to $4,000, if Choquette decides to go forward with it.