CHICAGO (CBS) — The results aren’t official yet, but Chicago election officials have finished counting ballots from the city’s runoff elections two weeks ago, and three aldermanic races that had been too close to call now appear to be all but over in the 5th, 33rd, and 46th wards.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) maintained narrow leads and are expected to be declared the winners in their wards when results are made official on Thursday, but Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) likely has lost her bid for another term by only a handful of votes.
According to a summary report from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, Hairston led community activist William Calloway in the 5th Ward by 176 votes, out of 13,522 ballots, to secure a sixth term in office.
In the 46th Ward, Cappleman was leading scientist Marianne Lalonde by a mere 25 votes, apparently holding on for a third term.
In the 33rd Ward, community activist and democratic socialist Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez appears to have narrowly defeated Mell, with a lead of only 13 votes.
Mell has been alderman since she was appointed to replace her father, Dick Mell, in 2013. She was elected to her first full term in 2015, in a race that was nearly as close, avoiding a runoff against teacher Tim Meegan by a mere 17 votes.
But in a tweet on Wednesday, Mell asked for a “discovery recount.” It’s unclear whether the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners will grant that request.
The election board will declare the official results Thursday afternoon.
Although all the votes have now been counted in those three races, the candidates on the losing end could seek recounts before the new City Council is sworn in next month.
“All of the leading and trailing candidates in the 33rd and 46th Wards have already filed for full recounts more than a week ago,” said Jim Allen of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “Whether they continue to pursue those full recounts is their decisions to make.”
Allen said a discovery recount is separate from a regular recount where the candidate can examine documents, including the ballots.
However, recounts have become increasingly difficult to win in recent years, especially after Chicago ditched the old punch card ballots more than a decade ago, leaving less margin for error when counting votes.
The new City Council is scheduled to be sworn in on May 20.