Unofficial returns show tie for school board seat

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 am

The result of a primary election in northern Bellevue on Tuesday remains too close to call.

Lacey Merica appears posed to appear on next month's general election ballot for the Omaha school board, but the battle for second place remains unresolved after Meg Cordes and William Forsee were tied in unofficial results.

Omaha Public Schools operates five buildings in Bellevue: Bryan High and Bryan Middle schools and Chandler View, Gilder and Pawnee elementary schools. Residents of Bellevue living north of Childs Road east of 25th Street or Cornhusker Road west of 25th Street pay taxes to the district and vote in its board elections.

The Nebraska Legislature cut the size of the Omaha school board to nine seats, requiring the entire board to be elected during the City of Omaha's previously scheduled municipal elections. The changes combined Bellevue residents into a redrawn Subdistrict 8 along with voters in western South Omaha.

The Sarpy County Election Commission's unofficial results showed 226 votes were cast in Bellevue in six-way the Subdistrict 8 race, while 1,371 votes have been counted so far in Douglas County.

Merica had the most votes in the two-county tally with 330, including 41 in Sarpy County. The top vote-getters in Bellevue were Cordes with 67 and Forsee with 51, but both were tied at 287 votes once Douglas County returns were included in the tally.

Juliana Garza finished fourth with 238 votes across both counties, followed by Eugene Hoffmann with 236 and Mark Walenz with 207. Twelve write-in votes were made in Douglas County, according to unofficial returns.

Incumbents Rebecca Valazquez and Mary Morrissey, who both represent Bellevue voters on the board, declined to seek re-election.

Sarpy County Election Commissioner Wayne Bena said no provisional ballots were cast in Bellevue, so no votes are left to tally. A canvassing board will certify Sarpy County results on Monday.

“My numbers aren't going to change because there aren't any more votes to count,” Bena said.

In Douglas County, however, more than 1,000 early voting ballots could be left to count along with about 300 provisional ballots cast Tuesday.

Valerie Stoj, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Election Commission, said updated unofficial results are expected to be released Friday. The results will be officially certified by a canvassing board April 12.

“We are still in a holding pattern,” Stoj said.

If the results remain a tie or are within 1 percent of the top vote-getter, an automatic recount would be triggered. As it stands today, a recount would be triggered if the difference between second and third place is three votes or fewer.

Bena said it will be up to Douglas County to make that determination because a majority of the subdistrict's residents live north of Harrison Street. In that case, the candidates also could both choose to waive the recount.

If the votes remained tied after a recount, officials would choose a winner by drawing lots. That person would be included on the general election ballot along with the top vote-getter.

The general election is May 14.

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