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Tue, Oct. 22

Lamerson, Sischka will go to Nov. 5 run-off
High number of ‘under votes’ contributes to need for General Election

Jim Lamerson and Steve Sischka

Jim Lamerson and Steve Sischka

Nearly 90% of the voters who cast ballots in Prescott’s Aug. 27 primary chose not to vote for the maximum three Prescott City Council candidates they were allowed.

And that reportedly has contributed to the need for a Nov. 5 run-off election between the two candidates who failed to get a majority.

Updated unofficial results from the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 28, show that 15,958 ballots were cast in the primary, for a 52.37% response rate.

Of that total, 14,032 ballots were termed “under-votes,” which means that those voters chose not to select three candidates as they were allowed, Yavapai County Registrar of Voters Laurin Custis said.

“That is actually quite high,” Custis said of the under-vote total. She added that if voters had selected the maximum of three, “perhaps they wouldn’t have to go to a run-off.”

As it currently stands, however, incumbents Steve Sischka and Jim Lamerson appear to be headed to a run-off in the General Election.

After the county’s Wednesday verification of about 400 ballots that came in late Tuesday and were uncounted when the polls closed at 7 p.m., the number of votes needed to get a majority and be elected outright to the City Council outright stood at 7,889, said City Attorney Matthew Podracky on Wednesday afternoon.

With Sischka’s updated total of 7,715 votes, he was 174 votes short of the needed majority.

That means that Sischka and Lamerson, who received 5,661 votes, will be on the Nov. 5 ballot for a run-off.

Although the “unofficial final” count is still to come from the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office, Custis reported that only about two dozen ballots remained to be verified late Wednesday.

Those are the ballots on which questions arose about the voters’ signatures. Those voters are being contacted, and they have until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, to report to the County Recorder’s Office to fix or “cure” their signature, Custis said.

After that happens, the county is expected to release its “unofficial final” count late Friday or early Saturday.

The numbers do not become officially final until the Prescott City Council canvasses the vote, which could happen at the Sept. 10 council meeting, Podracky said.

Along with the under-votes in the race to fill three City Council seats, the mayor’s race also generated thousands of under-votes.

The unofficial final numbers show that incumbent Mayor Greg Mengarelli, who was running unopposed, received 10,093 votes. A total of 5,487 of the ballots cast were marked as under-votes for mayor, which means that those voters chose not to cast a vote for mayor.

In addition, there were 377 write-in votes for mayor.

Podracky said the mayor’s race required a majority of 5,048 votes.

In the council race, top vote-getter Cathey Rusing won a seat outright with a total of 11,677 votes. Incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr also received the needed majority to be elected outright with 8,442 votes.

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