FAIRFIELD — Town Council Vice Chairman John Picchiotti and newcomer Peter Lawrence won the two available council seats Tuesday on the Nov. 6 ballot in Fairfield, with current Council Chairman Michael Taylor coming up about 200 votes short of re-election.

Picchiotti brought in the most votes, with 1,479. Lawrence received 1,330, and Taylor finished third with 1,118.

“I was amazed — really amazed how well I did,” Lawrence said Wednesday, adding that he will be attending council meetings as a member of the public to learn more until his term starts in January. He plans to “go really slow” and doesn’t want to “go in there with an agenda.”

Taylor said he wished both Picchiotti and Lawrence “the very best of luck” moving forward, and while he was “a little surprised” not to win re-election, he “wasn’t shocked” and noted that “change was in the air” for the election in general.

“The people have spoken,” Taylor said. “People get to choose who they want to lead.”

Taylor was also impressed by voter turnout in Fairfield this election.

“Win, lose or draw — I was excited that there were this many people who got out,” Taylor said.

Fairfield Town Clerk Christine Keller said voting at the Fairfield Community Center was “nonstop” Tuesday, but was not without a temporary technology problem.

Keller said a state-provided tabulation machine — one of two at the Fairfield polling place — stopped accepting or reading ballots for about two hours Tuesday afternoon.

While the town had rented a second tabulation machine to process the local ballots featuring a three-way Town Council race and two uncontested school board seats, Keller said the town election officials were temporarily unable to use the state-provided machine to count the ballots immediately for statewide races such as those for governor or U.S. Senate. Keller said those state ballots cast during that roughly two-hour window were kept in a locked box to be counted later, per state protocol.

“No ballots will be compromised,” Keller emphasized while the machine was still offline.

A technician from election systems company ES&S brought the tabulator back online shortly after 5 p.m., Keller said later in the evening. The machine had been down since just after 3 p.m.

A Maine secretary of state spokesperson confirmed the temporary problem in Fairfield and noted that “a handful” of tabulator issues are common on Election Day.

“That’s the thing with technology. That’s why we use paper ballots in Maine,” secretary of state’s spokeswoman Kristen Muszynski said, adding that Nebraska-based ES&S is the state’s sole contractor for the tabulation machines and had four technicians in state to work with municipalities when any issues arose with the machines.

Muszynski said there had been roughly 15 reports of such concerns Tuesday from municipalities across the state, with most resolved just after 6 p.m. She said tabulation machine issues tend to pop up in larger municipalities, such as Portland or Bangor, with both of those cities reporting such an issue Tuesday.

Keller said she expected the turnout to surpass 1,400 before 5 p.m. and speculated that, by the end of the night, it could come close to the turnout in the 2016 presidential election, when 3,375 Fairfield voters cast ballots. Unofficial election results indicated more than 2,500 people voted in Fairfield this election.

“Presidentials are hard to eclipse, but I think we’re going to come close,” Keller had speculated earlier Tuesday.

Two School Administrative District 49 board of directors seats were also on the Nov. 6 ballot, with Buffy Higgins and current board member Tim Martin running unopposed for those two seats. Higgins received 1,890 votes and Martin received 1,878.

Matt Junker — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @mattjunker

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