Home Waynesboro City Council: Ward D may come down to handful of votes, recount on the horizon

Waynesboro City Council: Ward D may come down to handful of votes, recount on the horizon

Crystal Graham
waynesboro city elections too close to call
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City Council races in Ward C and D in Waynesboro will likely remain too close to call until the extended canvass is completed on Monday.

The current vote totals include all advance votes, in-person votes and ballots received by mail through Election Day.

The totals do not include provisional ballots that will be reviewed on Monday or ballots received by mail after Tuesday that were postmarked on or before Election Day.

As AFP reported last night, the Ward D City Council race was only separated by 21 votes. Republican Jim Wood had a narrow lead over incumbent Councilman Sam Hostetter.

The Ward C City Council race had independent Kenny Lee up 57 votes over Republican challenger Jeremy Sloat.

Breaking down the numbers

Waynesboro’s Director of Elections Lisa Jeffers helped us break down the numbers – and look closer at what ballots could still be outstanding.

Absentee ballots

According to Jeffers, 927 absentee ballots were requested by mail. A total of 760 mail-in ballots were processed on or before Election Day, with several of those being hand counted because they were emailed to overseas voters.

Based on this data, that means up to 167 people could still weigh in on the election if they returned their ballots by mail yesterday and their ballot was postmarked by Nov. 8.

Jeffers reported that 11 ballots were received by mail today.

Here is the breakdown based on Ward:

  • In Ward A, one ballot was received.
  • In Ward B, six ballots were received.
  • In Ward D, 4 ballots were received.

The Director of Elections will process all ballots received by mail and postmarked by election day through Monday at noon. Those numbers will be reported to the State Board of Elections.

Provisional ballots

On Election night, Jeffers said there were 65 provisional ballots for the entire city. However, she said, all the precincts did not report all of their provisional ballots. She said today that number is actually 82 provisional ballots citywide.

Provisional ballots were same-day registrations and people who may have requested an absentee ballot but showed up to vote in person.

According to Jeffers: 

  • In Ward A, there are six provisional ballots, and all will count.
  • In Ward B, there are 35 provisional ballots, and 29 will count.
  • In Ward C, there are nine provisional ballots, and all will count.
  • In Ward D, there are 19 provisional ballots, and all will count.

What it all means

AFP projected on Election Night that it would be an uphill battle for those losing when the polls closed to come out victorious, but the numbers were definitely too close to make a determination in both City Council races.

As the numbers above indicate, it is possible for there to be a change that would result in the apparent losing candidate being victorious. In Ward D, where there is a 21-vote count difference, one might argue that Hostetter would need to get almost 100 percent of the provisional ballots and mail-in ballots to be re-elected to Council.

On Election Day, in-person voting seemed to favor the Republican City Council candidates. So, if the majority of provisional ballots outstanding skew the same way, it would seem that Republican candidate Jim Wood would be victorious in Ward D.

In Ward C, it seems that the 57-vote margin will likely be enough for Kenny Lee after the provisional ballots and mail-in ballots are counted based on the numbers provided by Jeffers. But again, it’s likely too close to call until final numbers are reported next week.

It all comes down to … Monday

The extended canvass for the City of Waynesboro will conclude on Monday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 605 Market Ave. in the office of the Director of Elections in the lower level of the Waynesboro Public Library.

The meeting is open to the public.

“If we have a large number wanting to attend, we will more than likely do the canvass in the voting room for the Ward B voters,” Jeffers said.

The meeting is run by the Electoral Board.

Possible recount?

According to the State Board of Elections, there are no automatic recounts in Virginia. An apparent losing candidate may ask for a recount, and only if the difference between the candidates is not more than one percent of the total votes cast between the candidates.

An apparent losing candidate may request the recount after the election is certified.

A local candidate would file for a recount petition with the Waynesboro Circuit Court. The request must be made within 10 days after the election results are certified.

According to the recount information on the State Board of Elections website, a recount team would review machine-readable ballots, paper ballots and electronic machine printouts, one precinct at a time, under the supervision of recount coordinators and report the results to the court for a final determination of the winner.

On changes in Waynesboro

On social media, it seemed that some voters were confused and unaware that they wouldn’t have a say in all of the local races. As previously reported by AFP, these changes were mandated by the state and included a ward voting system with votes coming only from voters in the ward – and a move from May to November for local elections.

Jeffers said that election officials didn’t report any big problems on Election Day.

Jeffers said the changes in date, ward-based voting, redistricting and her office move made for an interesting Election Day.

“All in all, I think things went well with all the changes,” she said.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.