Airtight Maplewood race goes to coin toss

Villavicencio likely winner; recount will finalize

After an airtight election night result, an audit revealing uncounted votes, and a coin flip in the city council chambers, all Maplewood City Council election votes were printed out and hand-counted on Nov 27.

The count happened after the deadline for this edition of the Review.

The Maplewood City Council race, which wrapped on Nov. 6’s Election Day and featured four candidates for two seats, was too close to call, at least for one of the candidates.

A margin of seven votes is all that seperated a win for council candidate Nikki Villavicencio, who netted 5,732 votes, or 24.88 percent of the vote, from a loss for Marylee Abrams, who tallied 5,725 votes, or 24.84 percent. 

Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said in an interview that there are no automatic recounts in the county. They’re only possible when a losing candidates makes a request for one. He confirmed that such a request was made.

An audit of votes follows every election. During the Maplewood audit, said Ramsey County Public Communications Director John Siqveland, auditors discovered a memory chip containing 68 votes that were never counted.

“Occasionally, staff will make mistakes,” said Siqveland, adding the county apologized to Maplewood city officials and council candidates for the error. 

In finding the error, though, said Siqveland, the audit process “worked as designed.”

After including the 68 votes, the seven-vote margin between Villavicencio and Abrams became a tie. 

State statute says ties are broken “by lot.” At the Nov 13 city council meeting, the council’s lot was a coin flip. 

Villavicencio won the toss — but the final result is still contingent on the Nov. 27 recount.

 

—Solomon Gustavo

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