Ballot hand count goes into early morning; Marblehead voters approve Q1, reject Q2, re-elect most incumbents

After a town-wide ballot shortage prompted town clerk officials to print paper copies of ballots and hand count those well into the early morning, results are finally in and show Marbleheaders approved the Question 1 override to fund capital projects but soundly rejected Question 2 for the schools. (Read our accompanying stories to learn more about the overrides.)

Town Clerk Robin Michaud swears in Select Board members Jim Nye, Jackie Belf-Becker and Moses Grader Wednesday afternoon.

Voters also decided six contested races. Select Board incumbents Jackie Belf-Becker, Erin Noonan, Moses Grader, Alexa Singer and James Nye all kept their seats, with Nye topping the ticket with 3,188 votes.

Town Clerk Robin Michaud swore in Nye, Belf-Becker and Grader this afternoon.

“It’s an honor to serve the town,” Nye said.

“I will be working hard to collaborate with the Select Board,” added Belf-Becker.

In a hotly contested School Committee race, newcomer Alison Taylor earned one of two open seats, with incumbent Sarah Fox holding on to hers.

“My message of transparency really resonated with voters,” Taylor said. “Also, School Committee members need to respect the voters who supported them.”

Taylor’s young son was by her side as the preliminary results came in at Abbot Hall Tuesday night.

“I might cry,” she said. “It’s kind of a big deal. I want to show my son that you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Fox wrote on her Facebook page, “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done in the past and honored to be given another three years to continue to serve the students, staff and citizens of Marblehead.”

Board of Health incumbent Helaine Hazlett held off a tough challenge from Thomas McMahon, 2,558 votes to 2,440.

“My opponent ran a strong campaign,” Hazlett said. “Although it was close, my experience prevailed.”

Hazlett says she has many goals for her new term, including working closely with the Marblehead Mental Health Task Force to raise awareness.

In the Light Commission contest, newcomer Jean-Jacques Yarmoff and incumbent Michael Hull won the two seats up for grabs, with incumbent Walter Homan unseated.

Jack Attridge topped Matthew Wolverton (2,984 vs 2,307) to replace retired Town Moderator Gary Spiess.

Pam Peterson edged out Rose Ann Wheeler McCarthy for a spot on the Cemetery Commission.

For official vote totals in all the contested races, see the photos below.

So, What Caused the Ballot Shortage?

Hand counting ballots at Abbot Hall

“We had a higher-than-usual turnout,” said Michaud Wednesday afternoon. An assistant in the town clerk’s office reported that 5,845 Marbleheaders cast votes on Tuesday, compared to 4,541 voters in 2021.

Michaud said she did not immediately know how many ballots had been ordered for yesterday’s election.

“We did the best we could,” said the assistant. “We looked back over the past 10 years to determine the number of ballets we should print.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division had already spoken with the town clerk and will be following up to investigate how this issue arose and how it can be prevented in the future, said Debra O’Malley, the office’s director of communications, by email.

If a candidate would like to request a recount, they may do so by petitioning for one, O’Malley explained. Recounts can be requested by precinct, with the signatures of 10 registered voters per precinct needed. If a candidate is not satisfied with the result of the recount, they could go to court to contest the results.

O’Malley said it is the office’s understanding that the town clerk’s office had not received any reports or complaints from voters who were turned away or left and did not return, nor had the secretary’s office heard from any such voters.

Finishing the job: After a fruitless late night waiting for official results, Carl Siegel returned to Abbot Hall June 22 to complete his traditional task of filling in Marblehead town election results on giant white boards.
Newcomer Alison Taylor earned one of two open seats on the Marblehead School Committee.
Incumbent member of the Board of Health Helaine Hazlett narrowly survived a challenge from Thomas McMahon.
In other contested races, Marblehead voters decided to return all five incumbents to the Select Board and chose Jack Attridge to succeed Gary Spiess as town moderator.

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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