Kaitbenski, Suprenant win Selectmen seats
By Citizen Chronicle Writers
STURBRIDGE — Local voters elected incumbent Michael Suprenant and newcomer Chase Kaitbenski to two available Board of Selectmen seats Monday, but at least one individual was reportedly prohibited from voting due to a conflicting clocks.
Kaitbenski received 479 votes and Suprenant received 472 votes. Incumbent Craig Moran received 395 votes. Kaitbenski and Suprenant were elected for three-year terms. After the election, Suprenant expressed some concerns about poll location hours in Precinct 1. Suprenant first expressed his concerns in an email to Town Clerk Lynne Girouard. Girouard had sent sent a report of the official election results by email.
“The statement in the Official Results that ‘The polls opened promptly at 6:30 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m.’ should be corrected,” replied Suprenant.
“I entered the Oliver Wright Tavern to vote precisely at 6:30 a.m., not a second before and I was told that I couldn’t be there. It appeared that the instructions were still being given to the poll workers. I was told later that a voting machine could not take the first ballot, and the computer card had to be replaced with a backup card,” continued Suprenant.
Suprenant also alleges that a woman from precinct one attempted to vote at 7:58 p.m. but was turned away. He reports that, “The woman stated that she had stayed in the family car with her small children while her husband voted, thinking that she would have enough time to vote after he did.”
The town clerk said the polls opened on time in each precinct, and closed at the appropriate time as well, according to clocks at the polling sites.
“I verified with our poll workers and according to our polling place clock, the polls closed on time at that polling location,” said Girouard.
Although there was a brief issue with one of the machines at the start of the day, she said the problem was quickly diagnosed and corrected.
“There is sometimes a machine that acts up at the start of the day,” remarked Girouard. “We found the issue and were able to quickly correct the problem.”
Suprenant also alleged a Sturbridge resident tried to call the Town Clerk’s office the day of the election and there was no answer. He also said that several people outside the polls verified the time on their cell phones when a voter was allegedly turned away at 7:58 p.m.
“People are very aware of the exact time these days,” said Suprenant. “You check the time on your cell phone and that is more accurate than other clocks.”
The re-elected selectman noted he thought carefully about whether or not to bring up his concerns. He reports that he asked several people whether or not he should bring it up.
“Unanimously, everyone I talked to said that it’s not right, that I should at least bring it up,” said Suprenant.
“I would like to say that I give credit to the Town Clerk. My intention is not to disparage her or to be critical. She did a good job, but I just want to point out what happened. I’d like to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have a major election in the fall, and it would be good to talk about it before then,” explained Suprenant.
Other offices on the ballot included Assessor, a school committee seat and library trustees, though only the Selectman’s seat was contested.