The Secretary of State’s Office will appoint the election monitor after consulting with the attorney general. (Stephen Maturen | Getty Images)
An election monitor will be appointed to oversee the September primary elections in Bedford, following a review by the Attorney General’s Office that found “significant deficiencies” had occurred in the town’s handling of the 2020 general election.
An election official accidentally moved a tray of 188 absentee ballots before they had been processed, which meant they were never cast or counted, according to the review. The mistake was determined to be unintentional, and while it didn’t change the outcome of the election, the Attorney General’s Office considers it a serious error.
A public session was held on April 6 to tally how many ballots had been misplaced and ensure those voters had been notified. During that session, two additional ballots were found that had not been counted.
Another 25 ballots from the 2020 general election were found ahead of a 2021 special election. Those ballots had been counted but weren’t properly processed.
“It was a demanding election,” said Myles Matteson, who is deputy general counsel in the Attorney General’s Election Law Unit. “Election officials were working hard under difficult circumstances to administer a fair, transparent, and efficient election given all of the voters that were participating, many for the first time and difficult circumstances related to COVID.”
“Election officials were under great pressure and in this instance there was a mistake,” Matteson said. His unit believes that an election volunteer likely committed the error, placing a tray with alphabetized absentee ballots that had yet to be counted on a table alongside ballots that had already been counted. Those ballots should have been brought to the ballot counting device.
“Nothing in the actual occurrence of the ballots not being counted or in our interaction with the election officials indicated that anyone had any intent to not count these ballots,” Matteson said.
The Secretary of State’s Office will appoint the election monitor after consulting with the attorney general.
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