Haverhill Recount Confirms Preliminary Mayoral Election Result and Confidence in Local Democracy

Mayoral candidate Guy E. Cooper looks at final results with Haverhill City Clerk Kaitlin M. Wright. (WHAV News photograph.)

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Haverhill’s mayoral recount Wednesday made little difference in the preliminary election result, but appeared to have strengthened confidence in how local elections are managed.

City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett maintained her commanding, nearly 4-1 lead over School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr., adding 10 votes for a revised total of 3,888 votes. Wood lost a vote, now totaling 1,032 votes, while retired police officer Guy E. Cooper gained one for a total of 1,024. Cooper, who asked for the recount, thanked poll workers and city clerk’s office calling them “top notch.”

“We saw democracy—number one—happen right in front of us today. It was a good turnout and, again, there were some issues here and there, but nothing big, and they were solved right away,” he said.

He explained minor issues involved, for example, a ballot where a voter may have made an accidental mark.

“Maybe a ballot that would have been a blank ballot because there was another marking on it, but it’s all about what the intention of the voter was, and we were able to see what the intention of the voter was. Once it was called out to protest on a ballot, we were able to go look at it as a member of my team. I would be able to go and say, ‘No, that candidate should get the vote because the intention of the voter was to vote for this particular candidate,’” he said.

Cooper, who had received an apparently mistaken report on election day of a misprinted ballot, was satisfied “there was no sign of that at all.”

City Clerk Kaitlin M. Wright made the same observation.

“Myself, the observers, our workers, the candidates saw the ballots. There was not a single ballot that was misprinted. All seven wards—all the ballots for all seven wards—had all five mayoral candidates on them,” she said.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini was much more outspoken in offering his opinion.

“This recount was not necessary, but maybe it served a purpose. Maybe it will put a stop to some of the crackpot conspiracy theories out there that some of the ballots were printed incorrectly.  It’s the national insanity gone local. I hope it’s the last we see of this, but I doubt it will be,” the mayor said in a statement.

Although Cooper remained behind Wood for one of the two fall ballot spots, his name will appear since Wood chose to withdraw from the race. Rounding out the preliminary mayoral contest were Debra M. Campanile with 263 votes and George Eleftheriou with 219 votes.

Wright noted the local team was helped by city and town clerks from across Massachusetts who volunteered. She estimates the recount cost the city about $30,000. “It was a great example of American democracy and I think we all learned a lot in the process. Very smooth. We had a stellar team. It went well,” she said.

If there was a surprise, it may have been that outgoing Mayor James J. Fiorentini received the most of 37 names voters handwrote in on their ballots.

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