A Point of Pride for Acton

The top candidates in the September Third Congressional District Democratic party primary finished with less than 1% difference in their vote totals. A vote recount was requested, and I witnessed the recount as a Registrar of Voters for Acton. This note is motivated by the contrast between the competence of the Acton recount and the recent troubling events in Florida, where general election ballots were reported to have been found in a variety of unusual locations.

Lawyers for several candidates were present at the Acton recount. Interactions were cordial, but it was clear that every detail of the election records was being scrutinized. The attention to the details of the ballots – both voted and unvoted – brought to mind biographer Robert Caro’s description of Lyndon Johnson’s first Senate election, in which control over ballots was a central issue. Caro is a masterful writer, and his characterization of Johnson the Senator in his third volume, “Master of the Senate” is as superb as the details of Johnson’s election are disturbing; those details are described in Caro’s “Means of Ascent” in a chapter entitled “The Stealing”.

At the Acton recount, ballots were transported from locked storage, accompanied by Acton police officers. Unused ballots were all accounted for, and the voted ballots that had been machine-counted were recounted by hand – and the sums of machine-counts plus write-ins matched the previously reported numbers exactly. Every question regarding the election process was answered promptly and precisely, to the complete satisfaction of the campaigns’ observers.

I was left with an enhanced appreciation of paper ballots, and a distinct feeling of pride at the competence of the Acton Town Clerks’ office and the team lead, Town Clerk Ms. Eva Szkaradek.

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