Recount confirms VanBenscoten as Margaretville mayor
By Julia Green
It was even closer the second time around, as the Margaretville mayoral race was the subject of a recount Tuesday morning. Two representatives from the Delaware County Board of Elections, Republican Commissioner William Campbell and Democratic Commissioner Janice Burdick, were on hand to conduct the re-canvas, in which John VanBenschoten remained the winner – this time by a two-vote margin.
Initial counts from the village election last Wednesday gave VanBenschoten a three-point lead, tallying 69 votes to O’Beirne’s 66. At Tuesday’s recount, VanBenschoten received 71 votes while O’Beirne tallied 69.
A total of 144 voters cast ballots in last Wednesday’s election. At the vote tally, 140 were counted while two were counted blank, one was counted void, and one was counted as a write-in ballot for a third candidate.
One point of contention arose when it was disclosed that on the night of the election, a stray ballot was found in the stub box instead of the ballot box. The stub box houses the numbered stubs that are detached from the ballot at the time of the voter’s signing in to vote. The ballot accounted for the 144th vote, as without it only 143 were tallied. At yesterday’s recount, the ballot in question was deemed one of the two blank ballots.
“It is my inclination not to count it because it was not placed in the ballot box,” Campbell said during the deliberation. “Truth be told, I think it’s probably a valid ballot, but it is my inclination not to count it.”
The Board of Elections representatives opted to count it as a blank ballot, as they are required to account for all of the 144 votes.
O’Beirne raised the issue that voters were not handed complete ballots, as the stub portion of the ballot that includes directions for the voter was detached by the inspector before the voter received the ballot. Although voting instructions are posted elsewhere in the facility, including on the ballot box, it was argued that voters should be the ones to detach the instructions from the ballot to ensure that they have the opportunity to read them.
“I would suggest that the inspector not tear it off in the future,” Campbell said, adding that he would urge the village to consider using the county registration system, which seven of 10 villages in the county are using. “I don’t know about this home-grown registration system you have here,” he said.
Utilizing the county’s registration system would ensure that voters are not able to register in more than one county in New York State, thereby virtually eliminating the instances of potentially fraudulent votes.
“I wish the best of luck to my opponent,” said Mayor-Elect John VanBenschoten, “And I’ll be working with Carol, because she’s the executive director of the chamber of commerce.
He added that he is eager to begin serving as mayor and that he is excited about the people with whom he will be working.
“It’s time to get the ball rolling,” he said.