The Hamilton County Election Commission will determine Wednesday if a runoff election will be necessary to decide last week’s District 9 City Council race between Councilman Peter Murphy and Yusuf Hakeem.
The margin between Murphy and Hakeem in last Tuesday’s contest was razor-thin.
Hakeem, a former District 9 councilman, bested Murphy by six votes-but failed to claim the 50 percent plus one vote majority required to claim victory. That’s because seven write-in votes left Hakeem one vote short of claiming a simple majority of the votes.
Last week, election commissioners held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. But commissioners determined their meeting was not in compliance with a provision of the Sunshine Law, which says that such meetings should require a public notice of 24 hours.
The meeting was postponed until Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Discussion between commissioners will hinge on whether the write-in votes should be counted in compliance with state law or the City Charter.
According to Tennessee law, write-in votes are not counted or certified unless a write-in candidate has registered with a local election commission. Only then will write-in votes be counted and have an official bearing on an election outcome.
But the City Charter has no language regarding write-in votes. Instead, it simply says the winner of an election will be the candidate who receives the “most ballots cast,” implying a majority of 50 percent plus one vote.
After their meeting last week, election commissioners opened and examined the write-in votes. None of the votes were cast in favor of either Hakeem or Murphy, but instead for Melony Collins, “J.J.,” Andraé McGary, Moses Freeman or Michael Dwayne Davenport, as well as two check marks.
If commissioners determine that a runoff is necessary, the election will be April 9.