Q1 appears to pass, Q2 fails as vote count goes deep into night

After several hectic hours when ballots ran out in all six Marblehead precincts, some initial election results showed voters approving Question 1, a $24.3 override for town capital spending, and rejecting Question2, a $3 million override for the schools. (Read more about the override votes on Wednesday, June 22.)

The town-wide ballot shortage forced election officials to print paper copies of ballots, which could not be run through voting machines. That prompted a hand count that continued late into the night. Election workers were at Abbot Hall until 3:00 a.m., according to an official in the town clerk’s office.

Early results from Precincts 2 and 3 – which still excluded hand-count votes – showed Select Board incumbents Jackie Belf-Becker, Erin Noonan, Moses Grader, Alexa Singer and James Nye all keeping their seats and former Selectman Brett Murray falling short in his bid to return to the board.

Marblehead sign-holders outside the Jacobi Community Center on Tuesday, June 21.

In a hotly contested School Committee race, newcomer Alison Taylor was winning one of two open seats, with incumbent Sarah Fox holding on to her seat.

“My message of transparency really resonated with voters,” Taylor said. “Also, School Committee members need to respect the voters who supported them.”

Taylor’s young son was by her side as the preliminary results came in at Abbot Hall.

“I might cry,” she said. “It’s kind of a big deal. I want to show my son that you can do anything you set your mind to.”

In a contest to replace retiring Town Moderator Gary Spiess, Jack Attridge was in the lead in Precincts 2 and 3, with Matthew Wolverton coming in second.

Marblehead Town Clerk Robin Michaud and her staff go over ballots after polls closed on Tuesday, June 21.

For the Board of Health, newcomer Thomas McMahon held a slight edge over incumbent Helaine Hazlett, while in the Light Commission contest, incumbents Walter Homan and Michael Hull were narrowly holding off a challenge from Jean-Jacques Yarmoff, though in each case the races were too close to call.

As of 11 p.m., copied ballots were still being hand-counted. Carl Siegel – who has been posting election results on a giant whiteboard at Abbot Hall for decades — waited patiently for hours and considered going home.

So what caused the ballot shortage? “We did the best we could,” said an assistant in the town clerk’s office. “We looked back over the past 10 years to determine the number of ballots we should print.” She declined to say how many ballots were printed for this election.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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