'Challenge ballots' key in tight Gresham mayoral race
In Gresham, 704 ballots that were incorrectly filled out could make the difference in a tight race to lead the city.
These "challenge ballots" would erase what has been a slim margin in a Gresham mayoral race that has whittled down to two — Travis Stovall and Councilor Eddy Morales. As of Friday morning, Nov. 6, Stovall remains the frontrunner with 16,383 votes, 36.78%; Morales has 16,265 votes, 36.51%
There are two ways for a ballot to be withheld from the official count — either the return envelope signature does not match the voter registration signature or there was no signature on the ballot return envelope.
All voters whose ballots are being challenged will receive a written letter with either a registration card to mail back with an updated signature, or an attestation form to sign and send back to cure the challenge.
In a tight race, correctly submitting those ballots could change who leads the next four years. The deadline to fix any challenge ballot is end of business day Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The Multnomah County Elections Division also said there are several thousand ballots left to count — though it is unclear how many of those would affect Gresham races.
As it stands, there will not be an automatic recount with the Gresham mayoral race — the difference would have to be one-fifth of a percent, or 0.2%. In this race that would be a difference of 66 votes. Morales or Stovall may ask for a recount, though that person would have to pay a deposit of $15 per precinct, and then be on the hook for the entire cost of the recount if the outcome remains unchanged.
The official results will be certified Monday, Nov. 23. Any recount would occur after that point.
While neither candidate has called an official winner of the race, Stovall is beginning to move forward. He plans to meet with Gresham Mayor Karylinn Echols, city councilors and other key community members as he lays the foundation for serving as mayor.
"The challenges that lie ahead require that we not wait to start work on behalf of our community," Stovall said. "We must begin the transition process as we come together to chart a path to make Gresham stronger."
If the results hold, Morales would return to his duties on council.
"Having both of us working for Gresham is a win for our community," Stovall said.
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