NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 20, 2013

Amesbury voter: Absentee ballot wasn't counted

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY – With the mayoral recount likely to be decided by just a handful of votes, at least one potentially critical vote may have been excluded from the count due to a delay at the post office.

Mary Millett, whose husband Dan is an 83-year-old disabled Navy veteran, said she mailed an absentee ballot for her husband a week before the Nov. 5 election, but was notified recently that his vote wasn’t counted because it arrived at City Hall too late.

Millett said she was irate when she got the call, and couldn’t understand how it was possible that the ballot didn’t reach City Hall on time. The Milletts live on Middle Road, only two miles from City Hall.

“There is no way in hell that it took eight days to get from Middle Road to Friend Street,” Millett said.

Millett said that she and her husband have lived in Amesbury since 1961 and have voted in just about every election since that time. She said her husband fought in the Korean War and has suffered from numerous serious health issues over the past few years, and was not able to discuss the matter with The Daily News himself. The Milletts have filed absentee ballots on his behalf on numerous occasions in the past without any trouble.

“I was so surprised,” Millett said. “I’ve sent so many absentee ballots for my husband, and I’ve never had this problem.”

City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin said that any absentee ballot that isn’t received by 8 p.m. on Election Day isn’t counted, and while she couldn’t comment on any ballots in particular, she said if Millett’s ballot arrived after the close of polls, it wouldn’t have been included in the final tally.

There have been a handful of allegations of absentee ballots not being counted in the election, due to their late arrival.

Millett said she has not spoken to Kitchin or anyone else in the clerk’s office about her husband’s ballot, and said she isn’t sure exactly who told her that it hadn’t been counted, saying she thinks it was an attorney. But going forward, she’ll make a point to hand deliver the ballot to City Hall.

“I thought I was OK mailing it, and I thought a week would be sufficient for that to go from Middle Road to Friend Street,” Millett said.

As for whether her husband’s vote could have potentially swayed the result of the race, Millett said she doesn’t know which of the two candidates her husband voted for, and that she just mailed it for him.

Mayor-elect Ken Gray defeated four-term incumbent Mayor Thatcher Kezer 2,092 to 2,090 on Election Day. There will be a recount on Thursday morning in the City Hall auditorium.