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Deb Mell Might Avoid Runoff Now That She's 2 Votes Over 50 Percent Mark

By Patty Wetli | February 27, 2015 3:26pm | Updated on March 2, 2015 9:26am
 Deb Mell (c.) is flanked by aldermanic challengers Tim Meegan and Annisa Wanat.
Deb Mell (c.) is flanked by aldermanic challengers Tim Meegan and Annisa Wanat.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

ALBANY PARK — Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) didn't concede to a runoff against her closest challenger, Tim Meegan, earlier this week — and she may not have to.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported Friday that absentee ballots counted after Tuesday's election pushed Mell over the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff.

Mell has 4,037 votes — just over 50 percent of the 8,069 votes cast. She needed 4,035 votes to avoid a runoff.

Meegan said he is already preparing to contest the results and file for a recount.

Patty Wetli explains what happens next:

On Tuesday Mell, who was appointed to the position after the retirement of her father, Dick Mell, from the City Council, figured she needed an extra 50 votes to avoid a runoff.

"There's still a bunch of absentee ballots. We'll have a better idea on Friday," Mell said.

Absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Feb. 23, but are accepted and counted until March 10, according to the Election Board.

With that in mind, James Allen, spokesman for the Board of Elections, said, "I want to emphasize nothing is official or done until March 11 or 12."

In the 33rd Ward, a total of 510 voters applied for absentee ballots. Of those, 298 have been received and counted, leaving 212 potential ballots that could arrive by March 10, according to Allen.

In addition, there were 60 provisional ballots cast in the 33rd Ward that won't be processed until next Wednesday at the earliest. Voters have seven calendar days following an election to provide the additional documentation required to validate their provisional ballot, Allen explained.

Though the absentee count affected a number of races, the 33rd "is easily the closest," Allen said.

March 10 is the next date the Board of Elections will process outstanding absentee ballots, he said.

"I'm a little disappointed," Meegan said of the latest turn of events.

His campaign would be filing for a recount, which is allowable up to five days after an election.

The deadline for contesting results falls on Sunday, and on Monday the Board of Elections is closed for Pulaski Day, so candidates have until Tuesday to request a recount, Allen said.

"This is all new territory," said Meegan, who remains committed to his campaign.

"If we're in the run-off, we can win it," he said.

With all of the votes cast Tuesday counted, Mell had 49.7 percent of the vote, and Meegan had 34.5 percent of the vote.

On Friday, however, Mell was up to 50.3 percent of the vote. Meegan had 34.13, according to the Election Board.

Deb Mell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier in the day Friday, she told DNAinfo.com Chicago she was moving ahead with her campaign under the assumption of a runoff.

"We're continuing the conversation with the voters," she said.

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