MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The winner of last week’s Progressive primary for governor said Tuesday that she is bowing out of the race and only ran to prevent another member of her party from winning, while the runner-up said she’s calling for a recount.
The official count released Tuesday by the secretary of state’s office showed Martha Abbott with 371 votes and Annette Smith with 354 write-in votes. Abbott said she wants her left-leaning party’s support to go toward the re-election of Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Abbott said she ran only to block anyone else from getting the Progressive nomination for governor. ‘‘We would like not to be in the governor’s race,’’ she said in an interview.
But Smith said that there appeared to have been vote-counting irregularities in several towns and that she would ask Secretary of State Jim Condos to call for a recount.
Her main concern, she said, was that instructions for voters writing in candidates on ballots called for filling in the candidate’s name and filling in an oval next to the blank. If the oval was not filled in, she said, election officials in several towns appeared not to have counted the ballots. State law, however, does not call for filling in the oval, saying only that town election officials are supposed determine the voter’s intent, she said.
By saying it was a requirement that the oval be filled in, ‘‘the ballot instructions were wrong,’’ Smith said.
Secretary of State Jim Condos said later that it’s Smith’s reading of the law that’s wrong. He said the law agrees with ballot instructions that the oval next to a write-in candidate’s name should be filled in.
Condos’ office reported that 993 ballots were cast in the Progressive primary. The official totals showed Progressive ballots with a total of 382 write-in votes. If more than 17 — the margin between Smith and Abbott — of the remaining 268 progressive ballots bore Smith’s name but were not counted because of the oval not being filled in, Smith said she might be the victor.
Condos called that argument a ‘‘red herring.’’ He said 43,063 Democratic ballots were taken, but Shumlin only got 34,423 votes. The difference likely was simply due to people not voting in the gubernatorial primary — and the same most likely applied to the 268 Progressive ballots on which a vote for a gubernatorial candidate was not counted, he said.
‘‘Our goal is to have a fair and accurate election,’’ but speed also is of the essence, Condos said. Under federal law, ballots for the general election have to be printed by Sept. 21 so they can be mailed to military and other voters living overseas.
Smith argued that the short timeframe meant Condos should act quickly.
‘‘He ought to jump on it and do the recount. If we have to take it to court, it will just drag it out,’’ she said.