If the Board of Elections

did the right thing in the Woodmansee case, it went turkey elsewhere this election year.

In the highest profile case, which dates to the primary election in September, the board declared a one-vote victory for State Representative William San Bento over challenger Carlos Tobon after four different counts produced four different results.

The board, which fed the bulk of the ballots through vote-counting machines each time, refused to conduct a recount by hand ― relying on a narrow reading of state law about how recounts are to be handled.

The state Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, upheld the board's position, earning a turkey of its own. Chief Justice Paul Suttell and Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg, in their sharp dissent, argued that "as Americans, our most fundamental right is the right to vote," and "the present circumstances, where there is but a one-vote difference after four machine counts, each resulting in different totals, warrant a manual recount."

The board also had its share of problems in this month's general election. It shipped the wrong ballots to polling locations in West Warwick and South Kingstown, delaying voting and sending an unknown number of voters home grumbling, without casting a ballot.

The biggest trouble, though, came at the Juanita Sanchez complex in South Providence, where hundreds of voters waited nearly three hours to cast ballots ― in part because there was just one vote-counting machine on the premises for much of the day.

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