By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
AMES -- Officials chucked the village's election results Tuesday because of a ill-designed ballot, and a do-over will be scheduled at a date to be determined.
It's unknown who was chosen in Tuesday's two-way contest for mayor, and three-way contest for two trustees. The results were kept sealed, impounded, and put in the care of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Officials said though the mistakes on the ballot were noticed quickly, the election was already underway, and the common sentiment was that it was too late to fix it. Rather than open the results, and open the potential for naysaying, it was easiest to start from scratch.
"I believe it's the right thing to do," said mayoral candidate and outgoing Trustee Richard Wilday.
"Even though I thought results would have been valid, I was comfortable with that," said Wilday's opponent, Donald Krutz. "I didn't think anyone did anything wrong intentionally, I just think it's a small village, and it's been a long time since there were that many people on the ballot."
The ballot didn't include a write-in space for the mayor's race, and grouped the trustee candidates in such a way that candidate Katie Bottger was practically guaranteed election in the three-way race. Incumbent Michael McMahon and Sandy Malcolm were grouped into a single box, advising voters to "pick one," pitting them against one another, while Bottger held her own line on the ballot, advising voters to "pick one" for that space, too.
"If even one voter walked away confused, it's worth doing the election over again," McMahon said. "It's too important -- we can't take elections lightly."
To put another twist in the matter, Bottger was appointed village clerk at a business meeting last week, and no longer desired election as a trustee, though she'd still appear on the ballot anyway. Bottger's appointment fulfills the vacancy created by the resignation of Mari R. Bartholomew, McMahon said.
McMahon said in the next election, whenever it's scheduled, the village will seek the advisement of the county election board to guide the design of the ballot.
"The decision to invalidate the results was unanimous amongst the candidates," McMahon said. "We thought it important to take the high road, and decide to do this before we counted the ballots, so there was no advantage to any candidate."
McMahon said the village's election doesn't utilize an electronic voting machine, rather a ballot box, but the state has indicated this is the last year villages are allowed to use anything but the electronic machines.