Will Cathy Manchester keep leading?

The 2014 election isn’t over in Vacationland. Maine’s legislature — charged with electing the Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer — is awaiting the outcome of a state senate race between two Cathys.

Democrat Cathy Breen was announced the winner on election night, but Republican Cathy Manchester has more votes after a recount.

The mystery lies in a ballot box from the island community of Long Island, a rare place where humans are still expected to know how to count. The clerk there tallied 171 ballots, locked them in a box, sealed it with a sticker and entrusted it to the state police for safe keeping. So we are told, anyway.

When the locked box was opened for the recount, 21 new ballots appeared — like magic! Or voter fraud.

All 21 mystery votes were for Cathy Manchester, and this not-so-immaculate conception of an election has us wondering.

Should the Secretary of State, Maine’s chief elections officer, investigate the outcome of a legislative race that could decide whether he is re-elected?

Should Republicans, perennially screaming about “voter fraud,” investigate what appears to actually be voter fraud?

Is there an absolute right answer to these questions?

Public officials do have an absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public, not themselves, and it seems like the litmus test shouldn’t be that complicated, but it is.

A hyper-polarized public no longer readily distinguishes between right and wrong; only right and left. Decisions by public officials are filtered through layers of distrust, cowardice, connivance and collusion.

A different question has me thinking about politics, power and privilege.

Will Cathy Manchester, a former stock car racer and the first woman Chief of Police in Maine, question the possibility of misconduct by the brotherhood of Maine State Police? Will she demand an investigation that might result in her losing a coveted senate seat?

I believe it depends on the answer to yet another question.

Does Cathy Manchester have the strength and energy to crash through another barrier others are too afraid to confront?


Cynthia Dill

About Cynthia Dill

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights attorney with the Portland firm Troubh Heisler. She has served as a state senator and representative, and she is the former Democratic nominee in Maine's 2012 U.S. Senate race. She holds a BA from the University of Vermont and a JD from Northeastern University. She is admitted in the U.S. District Courts for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. Dill lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband Tom and their two children.