Author(s):    Rhonda Stewart, Globe Staff

Date: November 13, 2003 Page: 3 Section: GLOBE WEST


After briefly weighing whether to press for a recount of last week's election, the Newton Taxpayers Association has decided not to encourage any of the candidates it supported to challenge the outcome.


In the city's alderman-at-large races, the ballot asked voters to choose not more than two candidates in each of the eight wards. Peter D. Karg, executive secretary of the election commission, said that ballots recording votes for only one candidate were not discounted. For those who chose to do what Karg described as "bullet voting" - choosing one candidate rather than two - one vote was recorded for the candidate selected and one blank vote was also recorded. All of the at-large alderman races had at least three candidates. In ward alderman and School Committee races, the ballot told voters to choose only one candidate in each ward and each of those races had only one or two people running.


Last Tuesday's election was the first time that Newton used an optical-scan system in a municipal election. Karg said that this summer the city held two community demonstrations on how to use the machines, and a third demonstration was broadcast on local cable television. He added that despite a technical glitch on election night, results were available by 9:30 p.m., and the system worked as it should.


"It went very smoothly," he said. "I think we had a very good election in terms of organization, in terms of poll workers being better trained and training on the new system."


Any potential concerns over how the machines work and their level of accuracy, Karg said, are likely to fade as voters become more familiar with using the technology.


Brian Camenker, president of the taxpayers' association, said his group is generally satisfied with the explanation offered by Karg, who pointed out that the number of people who voted and the number of blanks recorded were comparable to previous elections.


"It doesn't look like it's going to change the results," Camenker said of a recount. "My position is that given all of the issues that showed up, I think it would give the whole city a certain level of comfort if in at least one race the machine's count could be compared to a hand count."


Election results will be certified by tomorrow at 5 p.m., Karg said.