Dewey Beach election results will stand, at least for now.
Acting on advice from Town Counsel Fred Townsend, the Dewey Beach Board of Elections voted unanimously Sept. 26 to deny a complaint by commissioner candidate Phil Rowe to dismiss results of the Sept. 21 municipal election.
Rowe, who lost to Commissioner Paul Bauer by 6 votes, filed the complaint Sept. 21, stating Bauer misrepresented his residency status. Bauer was listed as a nonresident candidate on absentee ballots but as a resident candidate on ballots at the polls.
He said the ballot issue should be disqualifying. “I think my campaign and my supporters were harmed,” he said.
Rowe said he was unaware of the filing discrepancy until after the state-mandated recount. He said he knew Bauer had filed to run as a resident, but he said Bauer is not a resident.
“The paperwork that was submitted is fraudulent, and that’s not right,” Rowe said. “There’s a penalty on the town charter for fraudulent filings, so at the very least that should be addressed.”
Townsend said since candidate filings are public record, Rowe could have complained before the election so the board could address it. He said the board is not obligated to investigate representations made in candidate filings.
“Do you not acknowledge that it is prejudicial to your opponent that it would be a subject of consideration after the election?” Townsend asked.
Rowe replied, “As long as he acknowledges that fraud is a disadvantage to my campaign.”
Townsend said any other allegations not made in the original complaint would be considered out of order. Board of Elections Chair Elaine Bole said if Rowe made such allegations, she would hit the gavel and ask him to stop.
“My argument is that I have allegations,” Rowe said. “I’m not sure how I can state my case without allegations.”
Townsend said the board lacks jurisdiction to set aside an election that already occurred or to determine whether a crime was committed. He suggested Rowe file a complaint with the state or Supreme Court.
After the meeting, Rowe said he would likely file a complaint with the state board of elections. He said he had other issues to discuss that he was unable to raise.
“I think there was criminality,” he said. “I have a legal fund already put together, and I didn’t have to use any of it today.”