Recount overturns Walton election results

The results of a village board of trustees election in Walton that were announced on Tuesday evening were wrong, according to a recount conducted Wednesday morning by village election inspectors.

The recount found that John Clark, with 223 votes, and incumbent Al Reynolds, with 179 votes, were elected to the village board. Third and fourth vote-getters were former mayor Ed Snow, with 172 votes, and Andrew Rutherford, with 84 votes. The votes will be counted again on Friday by the Delaware County Board of Elections.

The results contradict Tuesday's announcement that Clark and Snow were elected to the board.

Snow is accusing village election officials of not following proper ballot-handling protocol, and is seeking to have the results of the election thrown out and another election held.

Election inspector Sylvia Fancher said that Tuesday night’s results were inaccurate.

“The mistake was attributable to human error,” Fancher said.  

Although the paper ballots had been counted and tallied by the inspectors, village clerk Melinda Westcott said, the numbers didn’t match. Westcott said that she discovered the error while entering the totals given to her by the election inspectors into a spread sheet program on Tuesday night. 

Westcott said she was not counting the ballots herself, but rather composing an email to be sent out notifying people of the results.  That, she says, is when she discovered a mathematical error.  Westcott then notified Fancher.

All of the village election inspectors -- Lawrence Rigas, Joann Pomeroy, Sylvia Fancher and Mary Neale -- met at the clerk’s office on Wednesday morning for a recount.

When asked how an error like this could have occurred, each inspector said that there was a lot of confusion and talking going on while they were trying to count the ballots.  The official tally was off by 10 votes. A total of 345 people voted in the election.

Three inspectors agreed on the re-count. Rigas left before the remaining inspectors, and Westcott agreed on the tally.

If the recount by the Delaware County Board of Elections agrees with the most recent results, Clark and Reynolds will assume their seats, beginning their two-year tenure, in April.

Snow is contesting the results of the election. He said that the paper ballots were not secured and left unattended in the Clerk’s Office. Though the office was locked, many people have keys to the office, and Snow claims the ballots could have been tampered with.

“I asked Melinda where the ballots were kept last night, and she said in her office. I asked her if they were placed in the safe. She said no.” Snow said. He said he asked Westcott who had access to the office, and that she responded, “Anyone who has a key.” 

“I am not accusing anyone of anything, but the proper procedures were not followed for handling the ballots, thus making the election tainted," Snow said.

Snow served as mayor from April 2005 to April 2011. He said he sought re-election as a trustee because the mayor's seat is not up for re-election until next year. 

“That office is in such disarray. Village residents have asked me to run for office again because of the mess we are in,” he said. 

Snow said that if he is not found to have won the trustee seat, or a new election is not held, he will be seeking the mayor’s seat next March.

The Daily Star reports that village resident Denise Church is also challenging the election results.