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A recanvass of voting machines in Lewiston Friday in the Republican primary for town justice showed the margin of victory is now too wide for the winners to be changed by the absentee ballots that will be counted next week.

Republican election commissioner Michael J. Norris said Hugh C. Gee Sr. moved ahead of incumbent Justice Damon A. DeCastro by 90 votes for second place in the GOP primary, an advantage 80 votes higher than reported on primary election night Tuesday. Two town justice seats are being filled in Lewiston this year.

The unofficial returns Tuesday night had Justice Thomas J. Sheehan leading the GOP race with 1,025 votes, while Gee had 881 and DeCastro 871. The 10-vote margin left Gee vulnerable to defeat caused by absentee ballots. Norris said 59 such votes had been received at the Board of Elections as of Friday.

However, when Board of Elections staff drove to Lewiston Friday and checked the 14 impounded voting machines, they found several errors in the numbers phoned in by election inspectors Tuesday night.

For example, Norris said, at one polling place an inspector reported 8 votes for Gee. Actually, he received 67.

Gee said the Friday recanvass produced the following new totals: Sheeran 1,070 votes, Gee 955, DeCastro 865.

Norris said he had not examined the recanvass sheets, which were taken back to the elections office under Sheriff's Department escort and placed in a locked vault, but he did not dispute Gee's tally. He said Gee and DeCastro both had called him with the same report.

DeCastro won spots on the Democratic, Independence, and Liberal lines, whose results were not significantly changed by the recanvass. Sheeran will appear as a GOP, Democratic, Independence, Conservative, and Liberal candidate. Gee will be on the GOP and Conservative lines.

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