Joey Brunelle formally requested a recount in the at-large race for City Council on Thursday after losing to seven-term incumbent Nicholas Mavodones by more than 700 votes.

Brunelle is requesting recounts in three precincts and asking the city to investigate its voting systems after six vote-tabulation machines malfunctioned, delaying final election results until after 5 a.m. Wednesday. To ease lines, election workers collected ballots in traditional voting boxes and processed them after the polls closed, which is standard practice, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Brunelle, who led Mavodones after early returns from the peninsula were counted, said in a letter to the city that members of his campaign went to two off-peninsula voting precincts in District 5 after 3 a.m. Wednesday for an update. They were turned away at Grace Baptist Church, he said.

His recount request also includes Deering High School and St. Pius X Church. Although Brunelle lost in those precincts, including by a 905-vote margin at Grace Baptist Church, he said the recount was not necessarily about his loss.

“I want to emphasize that this is not about the outcome – this is about shoring up confidence in the infrastructure of our democracy,” Brunelle said. “Many ballots – in the thousands – were not tabulated in the presence of voters, but were instead processed by poll workers after polls closed. This could have introduced opportunities for human error, or for some ballots to be discarded … since the voter was not present to correct mistakes.”

The city released final election results Thursday. Mavodones won by 714 votes – more than 51 percent of the total. Automatic recounts are only triggered when the margin is less than 1.5 percent, so Brunelle would likely have to pay for it. He said he would decide whether to proceed once he gets that estimate from the city.

City Hall Communications Director Jessica Grondin said the recount request was sent shortly after the City Clerk’s office closed at 4:30, so she could not say how much a recount would cost or how long it would take. “His request came in after hours and will be reviewed tomorrow and we will provide a response as soon as we are able,” Grondin said.

Brunelle is also asking the city to examine whether it has enough vote-tabulation machines and whether they are reliable.

He’s also asking the city to look into whether there is enough staff at the polls for voter check-in and registration.

Even though final statewide numbers won’t be known for days, Maine was expected to have a record turnout for a midterm election.

That was certainly the case in Portland, where 70 percent of the city’s 56,366 registered voters turned out. The 39,165 voters to flood the polls Tuesday was higher than the 2016 presidential election, which drew 38,574 voters.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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