Mayor Linda Tyer again the winner after picking up two votes in recount
PITTSFIELD — Mayor Linda Tyer on Monday was again declared the winner of Pittsfield's election — this time by 528 votes.
After a daylong recount at City Hall, 6,185 votes went to Tyer — a net gain of two votes — while 5,657 went to Mazzeo, according to City Clerk Michele Benjamin.
But Andrew Hochberg, an attorney representing Mazzeo, said his team would be exploring legal options in the days ahead, citing concerns about ballot irregularities and ballot boxes that they believe were not properly sealed.
He declined to elaborate on what further action might look like, but said "we'll make that determination within the next several days."
Mazzeo filed for the recount earlier this month, alleging at least one person close to Tyer's campaign had unauthorized access to ballots. The city has disputed that claim.
Council chambers was awash in red pencils and Manila envelopes as counters did their work. Yellow caution tape draped over several chairs, separating the counting floor from the rest.
Six teams counted the nearly 12,000 ballots across six tables. At each one sat two counters paid by the city, flanked by a pair of observers from each opposing camp.
The counters thumbed through ballots, calling out "Tyer" or "Mazzeo" as they went.
For much of the day, the room was a sea of raised hands as Mazzeo's observers challenged ballots — 386 in all — that were then segregated for a future review that may or may not come.
Some of the challenges were made for errant or questionable markings, but most were absentee ballots marked in Tyer's favor.
Mazzeo said her team wants to ensure the votes were counted properly.
Tyer saw it differently.
"It's an attempt to disenfranchise my voters," she said. "That's what they're doing. They're just blanket challenging every absentee ballot that has been voted for Tyer."
Hochberg said the team also has called into question all votes from three precincts whose boxes were improperly sealed, though he could not recall offhand which precincts those were.
"There are a number of irregularities that we've seen throughout the day," Hochberg said, noting 14 ballots that were in the wrong bag, as well as 29 blank ballots located with used ones.
He said he filed a letter of protest regarding some of the irregularities with the Board of Registrars, the city solicitor and Tyer. The letter reserves the team's right to take a possible next step, he said.
Debra O'Malley, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State William Galvin's office, said Mazzeo could take her specific concerns before a judge for further determination.
"I know that the margin here isn't that close," she said. "I don't know what the candidate is seeking here. If the candidate is seeking a new election, only the judge can order that."
As far as her office is concerned, this issue is entirely in the city's hands, she said.
"We have no role in this whatsoever," she said.
The recount lasted from 8:30 a.m. to nearly 6 p.m. The counters called out the opposing politicians names, marking the rhythm for the long day in council chambers.
Once an observer flagged a vote with a raised hand, a staffer would collect the challenged ballot and run it over to the Board of Registrars, which sat on the council floor. The board would then review the ballot and make a determination.
And over and over, the board ruled a challenged ballot as valid, only to have Mazzeo protest anew.
The resulting stack of hundreds of ballots now sits in segregation.
Tyer said her opponent's challenge of the initial election was without merit.
"The results from today have proven that it's nonsense," she said.
Amanda Drane can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.
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