BOOTHBAY HARBOR (NEWS CENTER Maine) — There is another election controversy, and this one has local and state elections officials scratching their heads.
The Maine Republican Party claims at least 17 voters in the Boothbay area were given ballots from the wrong congressional district on Election Day, and were able to vote for 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bruce Poliquin instead of their own 1st Congressional District candidate.
We talked with three Republicans in the Boothbay area — Lisa Hallinan, David Warford and Derek Joannides — who say they were given ballots with 2nd District candidates' names, even though Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor are in the 1st District.
In fact, those voters say their ballots actually listed both congressional races.
Hallinan said she cast votes in both districts.
"I did, I certainly did," she said, "and I didn’t even pick up on it; and I’m embarrassed as well, I voted for both, Poliquin and Mark Holbrook."
David Warford says he also voted for Republican Bruce Poliquin and, like the others, did not raise a red flag at the polls about having the wrong ballot.
"I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to be on my ballot," Warford said. "I had seen hundreds of ads for that race so that when I went in I just automatically voted in the ranked-choice voting for him on my ballot. Didn’t even cross my mind."
The two said they realized the mistake a few hours later while relaxing with other GOP friends.
But town clerks in Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor are skeptical of those stories, as is the secretary of state. Maine election officials say if there were ballots for the wrong congressional district they would have been rejected by the town voting machines, which are programmed to only accept the correct ballot. The clerks say no ballots were rejected by the machines for having incorrect races or candidates, and that no voters reported incorrect ballots at the polling places.
Hallinan, Warford and Joannides say there have been comments on the Bruce Poliquin Facebook page about voters in other towns having similar problems. One mentioned was in Brunswick, but the town clerk there told NEWS CENTER Maine no one reported or turned in incorrect ballots and none were found by the voting machines.
Hallinan and the others say they want the local towns to open the ballots and inspect them to prove their claim. The clerks say they would need permission from the secretary of state to open and inspect the ballots, and the Secretary of State’s Office spokeswoman said Friday there are currently no plans to do that.
The Boothbay region towns are not part of the current 2nd District recount.