Cambridge Election Commission Finalizes Vote Count, But Recount Still a Possibility

With 13 votes separating her from a seat on the Council, defeated incumbent Minka Y. vanBeuzekom says she will likely petition for a recount of this fall’s municipal ballots.

“Yes, that’s likely my intent,” vanBeuzekom told The Crimson on Sunday, adding, “There’s still some things that I’m looking at.”

VanBeuzekom has until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to gather 50 signatures to petition the Cambridge Election Commission to stage a recount.

The last time Cambridge conducted a recount, in 2001, the process took a month to complete and cost the city $38,509.


On Friday night, the Cambridge Election Commission examined its last batch of ballots and finalized its official vote count. The outcome reaffirmed the preliminary result, declaring Nadeem Mazen was the winner of a hotly contested spot on the Cambridge City Council.

Going into the final count, Mazen was leading vanBeuzekom by just six votes, but Friday’s results widened that gap, putting vanBeuzekom 13 votes off from a seat on the Council.

Given the potential for a recount request, Mazen asked the Election Commission about the margin of error on the city’s voting machines.

“This is going to end up being pretty critical,” Mazen said.

Peter Sheinfeld, a member of the Board of Election Commissioners, replied that there might be one miscounted vote per several thousand votes.

Because of Cambridge’s unique system for municipal elections, small changes can produce larger results in unconventional ways. In the last round of vote counting, the addition of six final ballots caused vanBeuzekom to lose four votes, but a recount could produce different results.

The Commission began Friday night by considering nine provisional ballots that had not been counted in the preliminary rounds due to problems with voter registration and six overseas ballots. Ultimately, only three of the provisional ballots and three of the overseas ballots were deemed valid.

With magnifying glasses in hand, the Commission examined the stamps on the six overseas ballots, which, according to city bylaws, must be postmarked by election day.

One envelope with a illegible postmark made several rounds of the Commissioners’ table.

Polyxane Cobb, who sits on the Board of Election Commissioners, finally opened it.

“This is for December,” she exclaimed, and nervous laughter filled the room.

Several City Council candidates—including vanBeuzekom, Mazen, Craig A. Kelley, Elie Yarden, and James Williamson—had crowded into the Election Commission’s main office on Inman Street in Central Square to witness the two hours of ballot examination.

At nightfall, Ethridge King of the Board of Election Commissioners announced the results.

“This will be official but not final,” King said.

—Staff writer Sonali Y. Salgado can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SonaliSalgado16.


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