published Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Hamilton County Election Commission to study write-in candidates in District 9 election, decision next Wednesday

by Cliff Hightower

The Hamilton County Commission today voted 5-0 to look at the seven write-in candidates in the District 9 Chattanooga City Council election before it makes a decision next Wednesday on whether there will be a runoff in the race.

Mike Walden, chairman of the commission board, said the write-in candidates should not be counted unless the name of Yusuf Hakeem or Pater Murphy is on them.

The commission will have to look through all the ballots in the race to find the seven write-in candidates.

The election commission held the emergency meeting this morning to determine what to do about seven write-in votes in the District 9 Chattanooga City Council race.

In voting Tuesday, former City Council member Hakeen got 1,030 votes to incumbent Murphy’s 1,024. There were 2,061 votes.

At issue is whether the seven write-in votes cast in the District 9 race would be counted.

Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said election commissioners and the city attorney discussed Wednesday whether write-ins should be counted because they were not cast for a candidate who formally filed as a write-in with the election commission.

It takes 50 percent plus one vote to win, and, thanks to the write-ins, neither man hit the mark: Hakeem got 49.98 percent of the vote.

If no winner is declared, then Hakeem and Murphy will face each other April 9 in a runoff.

The City Council District 4 council seat is also up for grabs. A runoff between incumbent Jack Benson and former educator Larry Grohn will determine who represents the fast-growing East Brainerd area. That runoff will also be April 9.

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