By Joshua Maloni
The Village of Lewiston Republican Committee intends to look over the mayoral race ballots submitted in Tuesday's general election.
On Wednesday, GOP Chairman Karl Frankovitch said, "We're going to take a look at some of the absentee ballots and there was a couple of people, I think, who probably shouldn't have voted who have voted. We just want to make sure everything's above board."
Anne Welch is the unofficial winner, presently ahead of Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland by four votes.
Welch is a registered Republican, but ran on the Democrat line following a defeat to Sutherland in April's GOP caucus. She won the Democrat Party's support two days later.
"This is an election that the village can't possibly lose, because either candidate is superb," Frankovitch said. "We just want to make sure everything is above board, everything is very transparent.
"What we'll probably do is get a recount, just look at some of the absentees, look at some of the people who voted. My guess is that it will all kind of bear out probably as is, but if there's anything we need to do to ensure fairness and transparency and that the rules were followed, then we'll do that.
"At this point, we're just examining things, because there was some allegations. People called and were a little upset about one or two. ... We just want to clear the air."
One of the things that will be checked is whether or not each voter actually lives in the village.
The Niagara County Board of Elections will conduct the recount. The GOP will look at the ballots and review the roles.
Welch received a total of 359 votes. Of that total, 328 were cast in the voting machine and 31 were absentee ballots. She earned 280 of the 328 votes on the Democrat line, and another 48 on the Village Party line.
Sutherland netted 355 votes, of which 341 were submitted via the machine and 14 were absentee ballots. All 341 machine votes were cast on the Republican line.
It's also possible the Village of Lewiston will receive additional absentee ballots in the mail this week. Clerk/Treasurer Amy Salada said the municipality would have to confer with counsel and determine whether or not to accept ballots with a June 19 or earlier postmark. There is nothing in the village code that states such votes would or wouldn't count.
Short of that, Salada said her office reviewed the votes and didn't find any improprieties.
"My guess is everything will come out the way it came out," Frankovitch said. "We just have to do a little due diligence. When things are that close, people want to take a close look at it. If it was a 20- or 30-vote difference, people would be less willing to microscrutinize."
He said the GOP will be happy to have Welch or Sutherland in the mayor's seat.