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Lowell mayor’s race unchallenged despite ballot errors

A month after the election, the Lowell mayor’s race isn’t facing a challenge despite some issues with paper ballots on Election Day.

Incumbent Mayor Steve Weber beat his opponent, David Hanes, by only seven votes.

“We know in this case, the poll worker had to hand out paper ballots,” said Peggy Byers, Washington County Board of Elections deputy director. “It was a split between Lowell and Adams Township and some got the wrong ballot.”

That means those Adams Townships residents may have voted for Lowell mayor, a race they shouldn’t have had a voice in.

Byers said there is a village ballot and a township ballot. The village residents voted for mayor, while the township residents voted for township trustees.

It was brought to the attention of the board by Bryan Spindler, of Adams Township, who was given a paper ballot which included the ability to vote for mayor of Lowell. As Spindler doesn’t live in the village, he shouldn’t have been able to vote for mayor. He said he elected not to vote in the race as he knew the ballot was a mistake.

Byers said it seemed to be a fairly isolated incident.

“No one said anything beyond that day,” she said. “Mr. Spindler called in and complained, but once you run the ballot through the scanner, you can’t pull it back. You’ve had your vote. Had he said something before, the ballots could have been switched.”

She said others may have gotten the wrong ballot, but they turned it back in to poll workers and got a correct one.

Spindler previously told The Marietta Times that he had brought the mistake to the attention of the poll workers but his ballot was accepted anyway.

Board member Dennis Sipe said it was a glitch, but not one the board wants to have for major elections.

“It’s on the to-do list for poller training,” he said.

He said he’s waiting for a report that will show exactly how many people voted incorrectly.

“According to what I was told, it didn’t have a big impact based on when they looked at the total number of voters in any given split they should have versus the number they actually had,” he said.

He said the next board of election meeting is Dec. 11 and he hopes to have numbers on incorrect votes then.

“It had no impact on anything in the sense that it was a split problem. There was no inordinate amount of what would appear to be wrong ballots,” he said. “It looked like a couple of folks had gotten the wrong ballot. It happens in every election, but usually the voter brings it to the poller’s attention. If you were given a ballot that was incorrect, you’d think they would let someone know.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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