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City Council Hopefuls Consider Recount Prior to Final Vote Tally

By Laura K. Reston and Sonali Y. Salgado, Crimson Staff Writers

As Cambridge awaits the final results of last week’s City Council election, multiple rounds of vote tabulation have steadily narrowed the margin between the nine leading candidates and the rest of the field. Yet, even before the vote count is announced on Friday, some candidates are already considering a recount.

Minka Y. vanBeuzekom is one of those candidates. The one-term councillor was ousted by a slim margin during the preliminary round of vote tabulation on Tuesday.

“If the result stays as close as it is now, I would be crazy not to [demand a recount],” vanBeuzekom said.

On Wednesday, the Cambridge Election Commission hand-counted the city’s “auxiliary votes”—ballots that had not been read by the Scantron machines that conduct the preliminary round of vote tabulation. As of the latest count, only six votes separate vanBeuzekom from Nadeem A. Mazen, who is poised to assume the last open seat on the Council as long as his tentative ninth place finish holds.

But before the candidates can seriously contemplate a recount, they must first wait for the final results to be announced on Friday.

“It’s not clear right now,” she said. “With the provisional, yes, I’m losing, but anything could happen.”

In addition to the remaining provisional ballots, vanBeuzekom said that there are 22 overseas ballots that have yet to be added to the final tally. With fewer than two dozen votes separating many of the contenders, the uncounted ballots could alter which nine councilors emerge victorious on Friday.

Although Mazen said vanBeuzekom might pick up a couple more number one votes, Mazen remained confident that he would clinch a spot on the Council after the final count is announced Friday.

“I’m the preliminary victor and unofficial victor,” Mazen said. “On Friday, I’ll be certified.”

According to Mazen, confusion over the complex voting procedures for the City of Cambridge may have left some voters filling out ballots incorrectly.

“I do believe that we lost votes from incorrectly filled out ballots,” Mazen said.

Cambridge operates on a proportional voting system in which voters can rank the candidates in order of preference. To get elected to the Cambridge City Council, a candidate needs to reach a set quota of votes at any point in the many rounds of ballot counting. When candidates reach the necessary quota, any excess votes in their stack are redistributed to whoever is ranked next on those ballots. If a candidate is the lowest vote-holder following a given round of counting, he or she is defeated and the ballots in his or her stack are redistributed to the candidate ranked next on those ballots. This process continues until nine councillors are elected.

Five candidates—Leland Cheung, David P. Maher, Dennis A. Benzan, Timothy Toomey, Jr., E. Denise Simmons—have already reached the prerequisite number of votes needed for an uncontested election.

Marc C. McGovern, Craig A. Kelley, Dennis J. Carlone, and Mazen round out the nine front-runners, but their spots are not guaranteed. Candidates Kelley, Carlone, Mazen, and vanBeuzekom still remain within 20 votes of each other.

Now all they can do is wait.

“It’s a nail-biter,” vanBeuzekom said.

—Staff writer Laura K. Reston can be reached at laura.reston@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurareston.

—Staff writer Sonali Y. Salgado can be reached at sonali.salgado@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @SonaliSalgado16.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Nov. 12, 2013

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly explained Cambridge’s proportional voting system.

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