The 'No' votes prevail in Riverside Park sale recount

New London Registrar of Voters Barbara Major reads the vote tally from the final voting machine printout as the recount of ballots regarding the partial sale of Riverside Park in New London concludes at New London City Hall Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
New London Registrar of Voters Barbara Major reads the vote tally from the final voting machine printout as the recount of ballots regarding the partial sale of Riverside Park in New London concludes at New London City Hall Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.

New London -- Today's recount has determined that voters chose to vote down the sale of nine acres of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard Academy.

The final vote was 2,098 to 2,079 against the sale of a portion of the park, according to results from the registrar of voters.

Due to errors made on Election Day in counting several absentee ballots, the vote -- originally 2,117 to 2,104 in favor of the sale -- will be quite different. According to Republican Registrar of Voters Barbara Major, after a hand recount on Wednesday, the absentee ballot vote was actually 169-149 in favor of selling the park.

On Election Day, it was reported as 210-159 in favor of the sale. That means the "Yes" votes will be 41 fewer and the "Nos" will be 10 fewer, Major said. As a result, the vote in favor of the sale may swing in the other direction.

Poll workers were still counting the other ballots and feeding them into election machines as of 1:30 this afternoon in the City Council chambers.

According to William Giesing, the Democratic registrar of voters, several of the absentee ballots were folded multiple times and they did not go through election counting machines properly, instead falling into auxiliary bins inside the machines.
Later on, poll workers mistakenly counted many absentee votes a second time, which created more absentee votes than there actually were.

"The length of the ballot is what did it," Giesing said. "Somehow they fell into an auxiliary bin and were counted again. But that's what recounts are for."


The recount, which started a few minutes past 10 a.m., follows the vote meant to determine whether the city would sell nine acres of Riverside Park to the Coast Guard Academy. The initial vote was 2,117 to 2,104 in favor of selling a portion of the park.

Any margin under 20 votes triggers a mandatory recount under state law.

On Tuesday, City Law Director Thomas Londregan and Mayor-elect Daryl Justin Finizio released an opinion that argued the sales contract with the academy had expired because a Monday deadline to exceutie it had passed. The opinion said the city also failed to provide comparable land for recreational use and hold a public hearing prior to the closing date.

As the recount started, poll workers looked for improperly marked ballots, according to Democratic Registrar of Voters William Giesing. Andrew Lockwood, an unsuccessful mayoral candidate, watched the poll workers intently, marking on a legal pad the number of ballots that were cast aside because they were not marked correctly.

Finizio arrived at the council chambers at 11:20 to briefly watch the recount. He said he could understand voters and other residents being upset by his announcement Tuesday.

"Certainly, I can understand why," Finizio said. "I also understand the law. As a public official, sometimes that makes you popular. Sometimes that makes you unpopular."

jeff.johnson@theday.com

Ballot Clerk Drew Rahilly examines ballots as New London elections officials begin the process of re-counting ballots in the Riverside Park question Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
Ballot Clerk Drew Rahilly examines ballots as New London elections officials begin the process of re-counting ballots in the Riverside Park question Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
Gwen Basilica examines ballots as New London elections officials begin the process of recounting ballots in the Riverside Park question Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
Gwen Basilica examines ballots as New London elections officials begin the process of recounting ballots in the Riverside Park question Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.

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Do you agree with Mayor-elect Finizio's announcement that the sales contract for Riverside Park, in his estimation, has expired?

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