BERLIN– Election officials continue to count ballots in the wake of last week’s primary election.
Mail-in ballot counting that started late last week continued this week as officials also worked to tally provisional ballots. While nothing will be official until a final count occurs on Friday, the leaders in close Worcester County Commissioner races in District 3 and District 4 remain the same. In District 3, Eric Fiori has the lead over Tim VanVonno by 39 votes. In District 4, Commissioner Ted Elder retains his lead but his margin over challenger Virgil Shockley has shrunk to eight votes.
“Our final count and certification for the election will be Friday at 10 a.m. here at our office,” said Patricia Jackson, election director for the Worcester County Election Office. “The canvass is open to the public.”
Following voting on July 19, clear cut winners emerged for most local offices. Sheriff Matt Crisafulli defeated challenger Jeffrey Buhrt with more than 87% of votes. In the county commissioner races, Commissioner Diana Purnell won easily against challenger Catherine Freeman in District 2. In District 5 and District 6, incumbents also cruised to wins, with Commissioner Chip Bertino being reelected in District 5 and Commissioner Jim Bunting being reelected in District 6.
In Districts 3 and 4, however, four-candidate fields resulted in closer races. Following voting at the polls on July 19, Fiori led over VanVonno with challengers Thom Gulyas and Shawn Kotwica rounding out the field. In District 4, Elder had the lead over Shockley, who was followed closely by challengers Jeff McMahon and Nancy Bradford.
A tally of provisional and mail ballots held July 27 impacted those numbers slightly. On Wednesday afternoon, Fiori had 323 votes while VanVonno had 284 votes. Gulyas had 271 votes and Kotwica had 122 votes.
In District 4, Elder had 227 votes while Shockley had 219. Bradford, who had been sitting in fourth, moved ahead of McMahon. Bradford now has 210 votes while McMahon has 203 votes.
Election officials said there were 845 ballots left countywide to be counted on Friday. Jackson said 380 ballots—212 provisional ballots and 168 mail ballots—were canvassed Wednesday. Sixty-six of the provisional ballots were rejected. Two of those were rejected because people voted both their mail in ballot and provisional ballot and will be referred to the state prosecutor because they tried to vote twice. Sixty-four of the ballots were rejected because people voted the wrong party affiliation.
Forty-three of the provisional ballots were only partially counted because voters voted in either the wrong polling place or out of the county, so the only officers that were counted were for those offices they were entitled to vote. Of the 212 provisional ballots canvassed, 103 were counted in full. All of the 168 mail-in ballots reviewed Wednesday were counted.