After a final tally of votes Wednesday morning, Chittenden 9-2 House District candidate Pam Loranger edged out John Nagle III for the second spot on the Republican ballot by merely three votes, town clerk Julie Graeter confirmed.
“It was a rollercoaster,” Loranger said of election night and the hours following. She said she learned the news of her victory from a colleague whom she thought was congratulating her by mistake.
On election night, the town is only required to send the numbers tallied off the voting machine to the Vt. Secretary of State, Graeter said. Then they go through the ballots by hand, checking for missed write-ins.
“Part of the process on election night is going through every single ballot that was put in the machine to verify a write-in was not counted by the machine because they did not color in the circle,” Graeter explained. “The secretary of state’s policy is if you find a name written in, you know what the intent is; even if they did not fill in that circle, you have to count the vote.”
Graeter said after all ballots were examined by hand, Loranger ended up with 177 write-in votes, three more than Nagle’s 174. Originally Graeter’s data showed 165 write-ins, and late Tuesday night, she could not confirm if they were all Loranger’s.
“I’m thankful and appreciative of all the voters that listened, heard, responded … and took the time and energy to accomplish a task that is asking more from the voters than you generally ask of them,” Loranger said.
Loranger and incumbent Patrick Brennan, who secured 476 votes Tuesday night, will face Democratic nominees Sarita Austin and Herb Downing who garnered 529 and 497 votes, respectively, in the general election on November 6.
Loranger said she is excited to get back out on the campaign trail.
“For 20 years I’ve listened to and served the residents of Colchester, and that’s what I’d like to continue to do,” she said. “I would like to go out and meet the people who I haven’t had the opportunity to see and hear what they have to say.”
Loranger is a well-known entity in Colchester civic circles. She serves on the town’s conservation, planning and cemetery commissions and was awarded the Vermont Citizen Planner of the Year in 2017.
Reached Thursday evening, Nagle alleged Colchester’s election officials are biased and questioned the validity of the final results.
“I really question the authenticity of the whole process,” he said, adding he’s contacted an attorney.
He told the Sun he is considering petitioning for a recount of the votes.
“If I lose, and I lose in a fair way — fine, I lost,” Nagle said. “But if I lose due to some shenanigans, that’s rude.”