By Austin Crosier
In a special election for the final Granville Village Board seat on Tuesday Sept. 15, interim trustee Dan Brown defeated challenger Robert (Bob) Tatko, 180-164.
However, Tatko had requested a recanvas of the votes by the Washington County Board of Elections on Thursday morning and that was done at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 21.
The official tally remained in Brown’s favor, 179-164, with most of Brown’s votes coming from absentee ballots.
Neither candidate could be reached for comment on the situation. Granville village clerk and treasurer registrar Rick Roberts did say via phone call how tight the election was because of the unique nature of the election and explained his role in transferring the ballots to Washington County’s Board of Elections.
“You had two candidates, it was a relatively close election,” Roberts said. “We contacted the County Board of Elections in compliance of procedures… our job here concludes when we do the canvas.”
The BOE’s Republican and Democratic commissioners, Leslie Allen and Jeff Curtis, respectively, conducted the recanvas in an open setting, with Tatko and his legal counsel, James Curran, in attendance.
The main issue at hand was whether to count ballots that had writing, symbols or insignia outside of the clearly designated bubble to choose for either Brown or Tatko. Four in-person and two absentee ballots were voided in the tally.
One absentee ballot in favor of Tatko was initially voided by the village counters on Tuesday but was included by the BOE commissioners on Monday due to “confusing wording” in the directions for placing an absentee ballot.
The directions stated to the voter, “please do not place any other papers or objects in the return envelope other than the ballot as this could void your submission.”
However, the voted ballot for Tatko was submitted with the instruction sheet. Curran believed the wording on the instructions should have said “this and or any other papers or objects.”
Allen said most the time, the BOE looks to give leeway to the absentee voter because they don’t have someone in-person to assist them if problems arise.
“We also kinda give the benefit of the doubt to absentees because they aren’t in a poll site where they can go ask a question,” she said. “It’s much harder to replace an absentee ballot than it is to replace an Election Day ballot.”
Another issue that surfaced was people voting in-person on Election Day when they had already filled out an absentee ballot. Those absentee ballots were not counted.
As for the election last Tuesday, Roberts was impressed with how well it was conducted and the great job the public did in following rules and practicing social-distancing in attempts to fulfill their civic duty.
“It flowed very well, we did make some changes to the polling process,” Roberts said.
Some of those alterations included taped lines on the floor to maintain six-feet apart from other voters, doors wide open to allow airflow, single-use pens to write on the ballots and exiting out of the back of the building to prevent coming in contact with anyone coming in.
“We sanitized the polling stations once an hour,” Roberts said.
The voters themselves were elated to be able to vote in-person.
Scott Corey wanted to do his part considering the political crisis going on at the national level.
“I’ve never voted for village trustee before, but I thought it was a good thing to do today with everything going on in the world and in our town, and I think I voted for the right person today,” Corey said.
“I wanted to make sure things in Granville stay the way they are, we like the way the town takes care of itself and the people in the town with the lights, the cleaning and the lines painted. We wanted to make sure that stayed up.”
John Constantine, an active voter, came in to vote not just for himself, but for the betterment of his town.
“Just voting, looking out for the good of the community… I just wanted my input,” Constantine said.
Frita and Bob Roberts, mainstays in Granville for more than three decades, and were aware of both Brown and Tatko’s initiatives.
“We’ve lived in Granville for over 35 years… I know both of them,” Frita Roberts said.
Rick Roberts stated in the phone call the frequency of voters slackened after 1 p.m. on Tuesday after more than 60 voters came in the first hour.
“It’s the busiest when you open the polls,” Rick Roberts said. “Once it gets dark, it’s done.”