New Haven’s election season has finally come to an end, as Tuesday’s recount of the Ward 1 election has reaffirmed incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 as victor.
The recount, held in the Hall of Records at 200 Orange St., arrived at the same result as the count on election night: Eidelson defeated Republican challenger Ugonna Eze ’16 with 386 votes to his 369. Eidelson’s 17-vote margin was the closest in Ward 1 history. Recounts are automatically triggered in elections with a margin of victory smaller than 20 votes. State law required the recount to occur by Tuesday at the latest. Roughly 20 people — including Eze and Ward 1 Co-Chairs Jacob Wasserman ’16 and Sarah Giovanniello ’16 — attended the recount, the first held in New Haven since a 2012 race for ward co-chair in Beaver Hills.
Before the count began, head moderator John Cirello read out the procedure for the recount. He said state law mandates that both Republicans and Democrats be present for the opening of the ballot boxes.
Cirello then gave Eze the option of not pursuing the recount. Eze declined.
“Let’s see what happens,” Eze said.
Recount procedures mandate that each individual ballot cast at the New Haven Free Public Library be entered into the voting machine by poll workers Dominic Tamaro and Kevin Arnold, who also check the validity of each ballot. Office of Legislative Services Staffer Donald Hayden counted the votes cast at City Hall via same-day registration by hand.
Wasserman said he was pleased that the result of the recount confirmed the original result.
“The total matched the total from Election Day exactly, so it gives me faith that democracy in New Haven is working as it should,” he said.
Eidelson, who could not be reached for comment, did not attend the recount. Wasserman said she is currently en route to her wedding, scheduled for this weekend.
Eze expressed similar sentiments about the recounts. He said he was pleased that it occurred, regardless of the outcome.
“This is one of those things that really reaffirms your faith in American democracy,” he said as he awaited the results.
High turnout characterized the Ward 1 election, which drew roughly 750 voters to the polls. Eidelson’s victory against challenger Fish Stark ’17 in the Democratic primary in September saw only 500 voters.
Eidelson held a 50-vote margin of victory in the ballots cast at the library. But that margin was cut to just 17 votes after Eze won 42 of the 53 votes cast by voters who had registered that day. Eze’s performance in the same-day ballots, which typically lean Democratic, is unusual for a Republican. When Republican challenger Paul Chandler ’14 ran against Eidelson for the Ward 1 seat in 2013, he lost by a margin of 228 votes. On Election Day, Eze said he and his team directed dozens of unregistered students to City Hall to vote.
Voting on Election Day was interrupted by a fire alarm that went off at roughly 5 p.m., prompting the evacuation of the library. The polls reopened about 15 minutes later. The flow of voters was highest in the early evening. A long line at the polls extended voting past the official closing time of 8 p.m., meaning that the last ballot was not cast until after 8:30 p.m.
A preliminary count on Election Day showed that Eidelson had won by 19 votes. That figure was revised to 17 votes after the official count was completed later in the night.
Eidelson will start her third term on New Year’s Day.