Democratic socialist Robin Wonsley Worlobah was once again declared the winner of the race to represent the Second Ward on Minneapolis City Council after the completion of a recount on Wednesday.
A lawyer for runner-up Yusra Arab, the DFL candidate who asked for the recount, said they are now considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the election.
Almost 9,800 votes were cast in the race and the latest tally has the top two candidates just 13 votes behind. Just over 60 postal ballots have been rejected and candidates can only receive limited information about them unless they go to court.
“It’s really tough,” said Brian Rice, Arab’s lawyer.
Davis Senseman, an attorney for Wonsley Worlobah, said they were confident in her winning status.
“I think as far as we’re concerned, as far as Robin is concerned, we’re done,” Senseman said. “She will be sworn in in January. She participated in the orientation. We knew from the start that the Minneapolis election officials are doing an outstanding job. The count and solicitation underscored all of that.”
A total of 63 postal ballots were rejected. Wonsley Worlobah’s campaign said it received information from election officials on Wednesday afternoon that showed the following: Of those 63 ballots, two were submitted by the same person. Seventeen people eventually managed to vote in another way, possibly by submitting a corrected ballot or voting in person at the polls. Of the remaining ballots, 32 were rejected because they arrived late and 13 were rejected for other unspecified reasons.
Rice said Wednesday evening he was working on reviewing the new data. He said earlier today that they believe around 25 of the rejected ballots may have been submitted by people of East African descent, based on their last names.
“It seems strange that 40% of the rejected mail ballots are from the East African community,” Rice said. “I think this is definitely a question that deserves investigation.”
Senseman replied: “We don’t believe there was a conspiracy to strip someone of their rights. If you send a mail ballot that doesn’t comply with the law, they have an obligation. to reject it “, and to alert voters so that they have a chance to correct it.
It is too early to say how many rejected ballots would have gone to Arab, Wonsley Worlobah or other candidates. Minnesota law prohibits rejected mail-in ballots from being “opened or subjected to further consideration, except in connection with an election.”
The race for the Second Ward was one of the tightest in town. The full recount, demanded by the Arab campaign, was the first in a random choice election in Minneapolis, which began using this system in 2009.
Election officers examined each ballot to see if voters entered either Arab or Wonsley Worlobah in the first choice column and, if so, assigned those votes to the respective candidates. If voters chose other eliminated candidates as their first choice, election officials looked to see if Arab or Wonsley Worlobah made the list as second or possibly third choice.
Throughout the process, representatives from Arab and Wonsley Worlobah had the opportunity to consider whether any ballots should be disqualified. The reasons for the challenges varied. In some cases, voters had parasitic markings on their ballots. In others, they had inappropriately marked multiple candidates in a column. Campaign representatives sometimes questioned whether the stains or handwriting on the ballots constituted an identifying mark that could disqualify them under state law.
City council had the final say on which ballots to count and met on Wednesday morning to individually assess each contested ballot. The final tally changed by a margin of six votes, with Wonsley Worlobah leading with 13 votes instead of the original 19. In the end, Wonsley Worlobah recorded 4,055 votes against 4,042 votes for Arab.
Wonsley Worlobah is expected to take the seat Cam Gordon has held since 2006. Gordon finished third in his bid for re-election last month.