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.,” AndraĆ© 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.