By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY – The Amesbury mayoral recount will take place next Thursday, Nov. 21, at 9 a.m. in the City Hall Auditorium, the City Clerk’s office announced yesterday.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer is seeking a recount of the results of the Nov. 5 election where he was beaten 2,092 to 2,090 by his challenger, Mayor-elect Ken Gray. Kezer is contesting the results of all six districts and is asking that all ballots be counted by hand.
In the immediate aftermath of his defeat, Kezer declared his intention to seek a recount and began collecting signatures from residents around town. Kezer formally submitted his recount petition on Tuesday, and the Board of Registrars subsequently certified those signatures and set the recount date.
Gray, meanwhile, has begun his transition into office and initially urged Kezer to concede the race. When Kezer formally filed for the recount, Gray said that he’s confident that the result of the race will hold and he hopes the recount process will play out smoothly and without controversy.
Over the next week, the city clerk’s office will organize the resources necessary to hold the recount, including a reader, tabulator and runner for each of the six districts, as well as a secretary, police officers and potentially other people to help with crowd control. City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin estimated the recount would cost $4,000 to $5,000.
During the recount, all of the ballots will be counted by hand, and each candidate will be allowed to witness the recount, along with one or more counsel and a group of “agents” to oversee the process. The candidates will be allowed up to one agent for each officer or clerk reading the ballots or recording the votes, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
The general public will also be allowed into the auditorium, but only authorized personnel will be allowed into the recount area itself, Kitchin said.
Both candidates will be allowed to protest any ballot, and those ballots will then be looked at by the Board of Registrars and counted according to their decision. If there is a 2-2 vote by the board, the ballot will be counted as “called” by the ballot reader. The board’s members are Kitchin, Normand Pare, Robert Gaudet and William Croteau.
Once the recount is complete, the results will be recorded and will stand as the true result of the election. The mayor’s two-year term of office officially begins in early January, when all winning candidates elected in the Nov. 5 election are sworn into office.
The recount is expected to take several hours, and for comparison’s sake, Kitchin said a previous recount in the 2005 Library Board of Trustees election took about six hours to complete.
If the recount ends with a tie vote, a special election will be held to elect the mayor.