A recent request to view absentee ballots for the Montgomery Village Justice election has resulted in a recount of all votes.
Village justice candidate Maria Beltrametti says a simple question has turned into a big fiasco, one that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“It just makes me think that [the village government] did something to the absentee ballots. Why wouldn’t they show them to me?,” says Beltrametti. “That’s just the way they do things around here. They have so little confidence in their own selves that they have to try to control every outcome.”
Beltrametti says she wasn’t confident in the conditions of the village hall on the day residents cast their vote – dim lights and a flustered woman in her 80’s in charge of counting votes – and wanted to see the paperwork of firsthand.
“She refused to show me the absentee ballots,” Beltrametti says of village clerk Monserrate Rivera-Fernandez. “I had noticed that the elections inspector had a little notation saying two of the absentee ballots were nullified. And I wanted to know why.”
Beltrametti says she also wanted to know if the people who promised to vote for her actually did. She says Rivera-Fernandez told her she would have to check with the board of elections to see if she can show Beltrametti the ballots.
“She called [Village of Montgomery Mayor Stephen Brescia] or the mayor’s sister,” says Beltrametti. “She doesn’t have the board of elections on speed dial. She said I’d have to put it in writing that I’m asking for a recount. I said I’m not really asking for a recount, I’m asking to see the absentee ballots.”
Rivera-Fernandez says she called the board of elections, not the mayor or the mayor’s sister.
“Are you serious?,” Rivera-Fernandez asked. “This isn’t high school. No one’s talking behind anyone’s back.”
There were 13 total absentee ballots in the village justice race. Beltrametti received 75 votes, candidate Andrew Lenane received 118 votes and incumbent Andrew Roepe received 244 votes.
“I’ve been a candidate in four village elections and I have never seen even [the slightest] of evidence that the elections weren’t conducted in any manner other than completely fairly and by the rules,” says Roepe. “…[Monserrate] throughout this whole process certainly didn’t show me any favoritism or bias. I think that she treated me exactly the same way that she treated the other candidates.”
The village justice election recount will be taking place at the village government center on Wednesday, March 28, at 2 p.m. and is open to the public. Roepe and Beltrametti will both be in attendance.
By Jaspreet Gill