WATERTOWN — Councilman Cody J. Horbacz joked about what would happen if he and Allison I. Crossman ended in a tie when absentee ballots were counted to see who goes on to the mayoral election in November.
That’s exactly what happened when absentee ballots for last Tuesday’s primary results were opened at the Jefferson County Board of Elections on Monday afternoon.
At the end of the day Monday, there still were no clear answers to what comes next.
Both candidates ended up receiving 598 votes after absentees and affidavit votes were tabulated, which means there is still no clarity on who will face Jeff Smith in the mayoral race on Nov. 5.
“Every vote counts, seriously,” Councilman Horbacz said afterward.
Babette Hall, Democratic election commissioner, said late Monday afternoon the state board of elections will have to resolve the situation.
“They’re going to let us know. Other than that, we’re just waiting,” she said, adding “hopefully, we’ll hear on Tuesday.”
The state’s board, the agency’s lawyers and its executive director are meeting today to sort things out. City election races are nonpartisan, making the situation murkier.
If it were a partisan race, the Democratic and Republican committees would decide the outcome of the tie, she said. But county election officials can’t turn to the city party committees to work it out, so the state will have to resolve it.
Both candidates also are forced to wait to hear how it will be resolved.
John W. Conklin, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, could not be reached for comment.
On primary night last Tuesday, Mrs. Crossman was leading by 14 votes. However, after the absentee ballots were counted electronically by a scanner on Monday, Mr. Horbacz accumulated 46 from absentee ballots and affidavit votes after they were opened, compared to 32 for Mrs. Crossman.
Mr. Smith received 64 of the ballots, while a fourth candidate, Cliff G. Olney III, took 16.
One voter on the north side wrote in former Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham’s name. It wasn’t in the voting district in which he lives.
Both candidates and the board were surprised by the turn of events.
“Pretty wild,” was Mrs. Crossman’s first reaction. “Wow.”
Jude R. Seymour, Jefferson County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner, said the board is uncertain how to proceed, and will have to call the state.
In his four years as commissioner, Mr. Seymour said he had never seen a tie in a city election before.
Before counting the last of the ballots, he joked that his office would lock themselves in a room and call the state Board of Elections to find out what to do.
Councilman Horbacz said he knows one thing: he and Mrs. Crossman made history that will be “talked about forever.”
He and his wife, Jennifer, were returning from a weekend wedding on Monday morning when she said they would finally have closure later in the day for the primary.
He joked to her the possibility of it ending in a tie.
It shows “how one person can affect an entire election,” he said. “Maybe if I knocked on one more door...”
The eight-candidate City Council primary race wasn’t affected by the absentee ballot count. Patrick Hickey, who came in fourth last Tuesday, showed up on Monday to see if he retained his lead for the final spot on the ballot.
The other three council candidates are Sarah V. Compo, Jesse C.P. Roshia and Robert T. Schorr, who finished first, second and third, respectively, in the primary.