WORCESTER (CBS) — The last time we spoke to the candidates vying to represent Worcester’s 6th district in the Massachusetts State House, they couldn’t believe how close their race was. At that time, a week after the election, Incumbent Democrat Geraldo Alicea was four votes behind Republican challenger Peter Durant.
Today, though, after recounts in every precinct, Durant’s lead is down to one vote.
Speaking to WBZ on the phone Monday afternoon, Durant says he considers himself Representative-elect, with a one-vote margin of victory.
Not so fast says Rep. Alicea, whose spokeswoman says they’re going to court.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.
It turns out the one vote that separates the men is an absentee ballot from the 5th precinct of Southbridge, and whoever cast that ballot voted for Mr. Alicea. But that person also over-voted their ballot in the governor’s race. So the ballot is “spoiled.”
Alicea wants it counted. Durant doesn’t.
To further complicate matters, at least in some peoples’ minds, the town clerk in charge of keeping all the ballots safe in Southbridge is Rep. Alicea’s distant cousin.
Town Clerk Madaline Daoust tells WBZ she reviewed the matter with the town’s ethics panel and they gave her a green light to keep doing what she’s doing. She added it would be impossible for her to prevent any of her relatives from running for office, simply because of her job.
One more problem with this election: that spoiled ballot came out of a storage box in Southbridge that wasn’t completely sealed, leading to speculation about who put what inside.
Daoust says the box was perfectly safe, behind locked doors, the entire time.
Mr. Durant tells WBZ he does not think Alicea’s cousin did anything inappropriate, but he thinks the fact that the ballot storage box wasn’t properly secured is reason to investigate the matter further.
There’s a chance, Durant explained, that this ballot box was left partially opened from Election Day until it was discovered this weekend – meaning anyone conceivably, could have tampered with it.
If a judge decides the spoiled ballot is legitimate, that means this race, with 13,174 votes cast, would end in a tie.
If the House reconvenes in January without a clear winner having been decided, the seat would be labeled “vacant” and then it would be up to the House of Representatives to decide what happens next.
Lawmakers could choose to order a special election in the 6th district or, more unlikely, House leadership could actually decide who should have the seat.