UPDATE: Jackson lost the recount Tuesday morning, 71 to 77.
Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) has accused town of Allagash election officials of engaging in a ballot tampering conspiracy to deny him a position on town’s selectboard following a March 24 election he lost to Karie Kelly, 70 votes to 78 votes.
After losing the election, Jackson demanded a recount.
That recount will take place on April 11, Allagash Town Clerk Susan McBreairty told the Maine Wire.
The demand for a recount — and allegations of a voter fraud conspiracy against Jackson — has caused no small controversy in the small Aroostook County town.
So have several messages Chace Jackson, Troy’s son, sent to Kelly and McBreairty prior to the election.
In those messages, Chace Jackson claimed he was investigating potential election irregularities in partnership with an investigative reporter and Maine’s Attorney General Aaron Frey.
Several locals saw those messages from Chace as threatening.
McBreairty posted one of the messages she received on Facebook. Although she redacted the name of the sender and a local official mentioned in the message, she confirmed in a phone interview that the message came from Chace Jackson.
“I am working with the Attorney General’s office and an investigative journalist to figure out how much [redacted] may be trying to unduly influence the election,” Jackson wrote.
After receiving the messages, McBreairty, 69, contacted the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins. Both denied having any contact with either Troy Jackson or Chace Jackson concerning ballot tampering in Allagash, she said.
“I called the Attorney General and they didn’t know nothing about it. And they advised me to go to the district attorney. I went there and they didn’t know nothing about it,” said McBreairty.
She said she then assumed that the younger Jackson had lied about ever communicating with the AG about alleged ballot tampering. Jackson later confessed to fabricating his supposed work with AG Frey, she said.
“My daughter called him and told him, she said, ‘You lied to my mother,’ and he said ‘yeah, yeah, yeah,” she said.
“You know, it’s such a little town for people to be carrying on like this, but that’s what happened,” she said.
McBreairty said Jackson deleted the Facebook messages after sending them, which Facebook messenger allows a sender to do, but not before she saved screen captures.
When asked why he deleted the messages, McBreairty said Jackson claimed he didn’t mean to type “Attorney General” but instead meant to say that he had contacted his own personal attorney.
She said this was the first time she’d received private messages from Chace Jackson.
“They accused us of ballot tampering,” said McBreairty, who has been the town clerk of Allagash for 12 years.
She said the town has never had a recount since she’s been on the job.
After the election count determined he had lost to Kelly by eight votes, Jackson conceded the election. But he later faxed an official request for a recount to the Allagash town office.
McBreairty said the March 24 vote count was overseen by a new warden after the Jacksons objected to the warden mentioned in Chace’s Facebook message and that one of the vote counters is the mother of Troy Jackson’s longtime girlfriend, Lana Pelletier.
“Troy lives with one of my ballot clerk’s daughters,” she said.
Asked whether she believed Troy was accusing his girlfriend’s mother-in-law of election fraud against him, she couldn’t be sure.
“Well, I mean, he’s accusing us of ballot tampering and she’s a ballot clerk,” she said, noting that there was only one other ballot clerk.
“They think that we tampered with the ballots,” she said.
She said she was “absolutely” confident that the vote count was correct.
McBreairty was not the only Allagash resident who received unusual messages from the Senate President’s son.
Kelly, who is currently in office as the first select person of Allagash, also shared screen captures of Facebook messages Chace Jackson sent to her. Like the messages to McBreairty, Jackson deleted those messages shortly after sending them, but not before Kelly saved them.
“Well I just wanted to talk about the ethical issues that have dogged Nola that I had contacted Susan about,” Jackson wrote.
“My expectation is Nola will do whatever she has to to ensure her preferred candidate wins,” Jackson wrote, essentially accusing an election official of rigging the election.
When Kelly signs off from the conversation, Chace gives her one more nudge to keep the election on the up and up.
“Please encourage ethical behavior from Nola,” he wrote. “She will steamroll you if you give her the chance. I’m going to keep considering my options about how to assess if illegal behavior has occurred yet again,” Chace wrote, concerning the election his father went on to lose.
Nola is Nola McBreairty Begin, the woman first selected by the town clerk to serve as warden for the election. Chace Jackson does not mention, and no sources in Allagash were able to say, what “ethical issues” he was referring to.
One source said Begin drew the ire of the Jackson family by publicly questioning the elder Jackson about using his office to pressure Sue McCrum to drop out of a State Senate race in 2020.
“He’s alleging that we didn’t count the ballots right,” Kelly said in a phone interview.
“The town right now is pretty much split in half,” she said.
Chace’s pre-election messages were not received well by some Allagash residents.
“What a dirty disgusting thing to do,” Margaret McBreairty said on Facebook the day before the election.
“In our little town some people think they are more important than other citizens and expect that people will fall at their feet and kiss their ass. Shame on anyone conducting themselves in such a destructive and deviant manner!!” she wrote.
“What a shame that this ridiculousness is even happening,” she wrote. “Whoever the source of this targeted attack is coming from should be made to shut up. Perhaps family members with integrity could intervene.”
In the first counting, Jackson lost to Kelly 70 votes to 78, with incumbent Ronnie Pelletier bagging eight votes and a write-in candidate earning one.
The recount will take place Tuesday morning at the Allagash Town Hall.
Jackson did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story.