What initially seemed to be a narrowly won victory for a new library tax in Hatboro turns out not to have been that narrow after all, Montgomery County officials said Tuesday.
A manual recount of more than 1,000 ballots cast in the May 21 primary showed the final vote in favor of the tax was a landslide 724-287. That’s a far cry from the results first reported by the county, which said last week that the referendum had passed by just 14 votes.
County spokesperson John Corcoran had warned last week that the recount, forced by a glitch in new voting machines purchased as part of a state-mandated upgrade, could alter the initially announced results.
And the correct numbers were welcome news for Michael Celec, the administrator for the Union Library Company of Hatboro.
“With these results, this is probably about as good as it could’ve been,” he said. “And we’re really just pretty pleased that the people of Hatboro agreed with what we put out there and came out and stood up for their library.”
Celec had spent the last year helping organize a campaign to boost funding for the library, the third-oldest in the state. The referendum asked voters whether they would accept a separate 0.55 mill tax specifically for the upkeep of and programming for the library. The new tax, an average of $75 per household, frees town administrators from having to earmark money for the library in their annual budget.
The proposal drew supporters from both sides of the political aisle who praised the idea of creating a sustainable source of funding for the library. Critics said they were unwilling to pay an additional tax regardless of its benefit, and some said they rarely used the library.
“It’s been a little bit emotional thanks to the way that the news came to us, but at the same time, this is what we were hoping for,” Celec said. “By all means it’s a thing to celebrate.”
Ahead of election night, a technician for the manufacturer of the voting machines was asked to fix a glitch that changed the order of the candidates listed on the ballot, according to Corcoran. However, the technician’s fix inadvertently caused some of the ballots deposited into the machines to be sent to a compartment meant only for those that bore the names of write-in candidates.
Savvy poll workers in Hatboro noticed the error and notified the county, concerned about the accuracy of the results, Corcoran said. No other municipalities in the county were affected, officials said.