Manassas City Council race likely headed to recount


Michelle Davis-Younger

Councilman Ian Lovejoy is now shy of 75 votes of holding onto his seat on the Manassas City Council, and a recount is likely.

When the polls closed on Election Day, poll workers failed to add together the vote totals from the two optical scanning voting machines used at the city’s Metz Precinct. When the numbers were added together the next morning, Lovejoy (R) picked up 100 more votes putting his race into recount territory.

The law states that any candidate within a one-percent victory margin can request a recount. Lovejoy says he’ll wait until the city’s voter registrar’s office receives all of the mail-in absentee ballots by noon on Friday before he requests a recount. When he does, every candidate who sought a seat on the City Council, and the two mayoral candidates, will have their ballots recounted, by default.

According to the initial count, Michelle Davis Younger (D) beat challenger Coates Ellis by 282 votes. But Theresa Coates Ellis picked up 120 new votes, leaving her trailing by 162 votes when the numbers from both poll machines were added together Wednesday.

Democrats Mark Wolfe and Pam Sebesky, both incumbents, and newcomer Tom Osina won their races.

Manassas Registrar Susan reed said the error was a simple mistake. The candidates were notified by email, which included a spreadsheet of the vote totals with the newly recorded votes on Wednesday.

“After working a 16-hour day, this is just a case of two tired poll workers who forgot to add the register tapes together,” said Reed.

Registrar’s across Virginia stopped accepting in-person ballots, and ballots inserted into drop boxes when polls closed on Tuesday at 7 p.m. However, mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday will be accepted until noon on Friday, November 6.

So far, the city registrar’s office has received 15 mail-in ballots since Election Day. There were also 100 provisional ballots issued on Election Day, where, in many cases, people who requested a ballot be mailed to them arrived to vote in-person and didn’t bring the ballot they were sent in the mail.

Reed contacted 86 voters who submitted problematic provisional ballots — mostly those with incorrect address information. Of those, a total of 15 have yet to respond, and they have until noon Friday to do so, or their ballot will be rejected, said Reed.

A total of 7,017 in-person votes were cast for City Council on Tuesday, while 28,440 absentee ballots were either mailed in or returned in-person between September 28 and October 31.

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