Maplewood City Council recount breaks tie in favor of incumbent Marylee Abrams

November 28, 2018

In a back-and-forth election drama that began with a tie, moved to a coin flip and wound up with a hand recount of the ballots, Marylee Abrams will likely keep her seat on the Maplewood City Council.

Incumbent Abrams finished five votes ahead of challenger Nikki Villavicencio on Tuesday, after election judges brought the ballots out from their sealed boxes and counted them one-by-one.

The result reversed a coin flip, won by Villavicencio, that the candidates had used to break the initial tie reported after Election Day.

But it may not be over yet.

Villavicencio is challenging the validity of four ballots that were tallied during the recount. Its unclear if she would be able to pull ahead even if she successfully gets all four ballots overturned in her favor; the canvassing board still would have to rule that at least one additional vote that went to Abrams should have gone to her.

The canvassing board, which is comprised of City Council members, will meet as early as Monday to hear the ballot challenges. But Abrams said she doesnt believe there are enough votes under review to change the outcome.

Weve seen the ballots that are being challenged and Im pretty confident that at least a couple of them are going to be ruled in my favor, Abrams said.

Villavicencio did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The opponents began Tuesday with 5,755 votes each, making their race the first to be tied in Ramsey County in at least 30 years, according to the county election office.

They had flipped a silver dollar to break the tie, which Villavicencio won. But under state law the tie triggered a recount, which resulted in a victory for Abrams, who won 5,757 votes against Villavicencios 5,752.

Had the two remained tied, Villavicencio would have taken the seat on account of the coin flip.

Abrams said she is thrilled to be given another term on the council. The three weeks since the election have been something of a civics lesson, she said.

You just see how important every vote is, Abrams said. And seeing how the recount works, it shows how incredibly dedicated our election judges are. Ramsey County did a fabulous job in terms of transparency and integrity, checking and rechecking the ballots with multiple eyes any time there was a discrepancy.

Greg Stanley 612-673-4882

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