At-large council recount could be resolved today

The scene inside City Hall on Saturday as city officials and observers from the Mejia and St. Guillen campaigns gathered for the at-large council recount. Katie Trojano photo

The final outcome of the at-large city council election— which is the subject of an ongoing recount effort— could be resolved as soon as today.

The actual recounting of ballots began Saturday in the Haymarket room of City Hall at around 11 a.m. The votes for Councillor at Large were recounted, starting with Ward 1, Precinct 1 and continuing all the way through Ward 22, precinct 13.

The Nov. 5 elections for Boston City Council-at-large ended with just ten votes separating the fourth and fifth place finishers, Julia Mejia and Alejandra St. Guillen. St. Guillen initially conceded defeat on election night, but when unofficial city figures showed just a ten-vote win for Mejia, her campaign switched up and said they would seek a recount.

Since then, both Mejia and St. Guillen’s campaigns have each collected the required number of signatures to certify the recount, and the City’s Elections Department has coordinated with the Secretary of State in preparation.

In accordance with notice to all candidates for councilor at-large, on December 5, ballots from all 255 precincts were counted into blocks of 50, precinct by precinct. Dozens of volunteers, along with candidates and their attorneys, hand counted ballots from 79 of the 255 precincts. Observers, talliers and readers worked collectively to get through the ballots, passing on any protested ballots to the Board of Elections Commissioners for review.

St. Guillen told the Reporter on Saturday that she’s excited that the end of the process is near.

“Although the last three weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster, I woke up today with a full understanding and I know why it had to take this long. We’d rather do it right than do it quickly. But I’m very, very excited that it’s here, and I’m excited to have a resolution at some point,” she said.

“We knew right away when the votes were so close that it was hugely important. I’ve spent my entire career in civic engagement and standing up for voter rights whether that be through redistricting or voter protections. The importance of making sure that every vote counts for me was hugely important.”

St. Guillen said that boh campaigns have been on the same page about the importance of the recount, and both have stuck it out through the process.

“Having both campaigns be on the same page about that really demonstrates the type of campaigns that we ran, the type of candidates that we wanted to be, and the type of councillors that we want to be,” she said, adding “It's not a Gore, Bush, tear them down type of tension-- it really is about the voters. It’s hard on the candidate that it’s three and a half weeks to wait but it really does take that time, it is a huge undertaking and I can’t imagine that we would have been able to do it in any less time.”

Julia Mejia said in a statement: “We’re excited to witness democracy in action as we continue to demonstrate the power of the vote in every election.”