When School Committeeman Michael Ferrante left City Hall on Election Night with all precincts reported in, he was 80 votes ahead, topping the ticket, in the School Committee race – and in a very good mood.
When he woke up the next day, he had inexplicably lost that top spot by some 224 votes, coming in second all of the sudden, and very confused.
“I left City Hall that night and there were all 21 precincts reported in and I was 80 votes ahead,” Ferrante said. “I got a call the next day and I was down 220 votes or so. Where did I lose 300 votes? Where did someone else pick up 300 votes? People I tell this to think I’m on drugs. Nobody can believe it. I don’t know what it is and it can’t be that far off…I know there were some problems in one precinct with 49 votes and that adjusted things by about 20 votes here or 20 votes there, but nothing like 300 votes. Something’s not right there. Something’s just not right here. I wish I had an answer, but I don’t.”
And neither does the Election Commission.
Election Commissioner Diane Colella said the one problem in the voting was at 5-3 – the Revere High School precinct. At that precinct, a voting box got jammed and 49 ballots had to be hand counted. However, she wasn’t aware of any 300-vote swing.
“Everything is on memory packs,” she said. “You may get one or two ballots at the end of the night, but it’s not 280. I don’t know what it was. All of the votes were on a memory pack and with the exception of the 49 votes from 5-3 that had to be hand-counted, that was it…I have no knowledge of that. About 10 p.m., about all the precincts were in…What is published is what it was. The only explanation I can offer is the votes from 5-3. If there’s a discrepancy, I don’t understand it. It’s printed right from the memory pack.”
The numbers of the mystery go as follows.
With all 21 precincts reporting, Ferrante 4,436 votes and second-place finisher Committeewoman Carol Tye had 4,356 votes. Committeewoman Susan Gravellese had a tally of 4,122 votes and in third place.
The three of them spoke on cable television, noting that Ferrante had topped the ticket.
After that, Ferrante said he left.
Tye and Gravellese said that, later, a police officer came and posted new results – results that indicated Tye had topped the ticket with 4,701 votes, a pickup of 345 votes from the previous tally.
While other votes had increased or decreased by 20 or so votes either way due to the hand-counting issue in 5-3, no one but Tye had increased by such a large volume of votes.
“Everyone has said to me since the election, ‘Did you come in first or second?’” said Tye. “I can only tell them that the numbers I have now say I came in first, but I also come in second at one point, so I don’t know…The numbers had come in with me second. The next thing I knew I was still standing there in City Hall chatting and someone came out of the office and said I had topped the ticket. A police officer posted the results and told me I topped the ticket…I really have no idea how that happened.”
Gravellese said she had been talking with Tye when it happened, and both were perplexed.
“When we came downstairs someone was posting final results on the wall and Carol was ahead,” said Gravellese. “What happened between earlier and then I don’t know. I was surprised and Carol was equally surprised. Michael had left and it was late. We both had a surprised look, but we were very tired and just left to go home.”
There will be no recount of the vote, and Ferrante said he isn’t interested in finding out any specifics – as he still won a seat on the Committee.
The mystery, it seems, will remain.