Incumbent Republican Ben Carver’s lead in the Ward 1 alderman race narrowed to five Wednesday morning after election officials processed affidavit ballots in that race.
Carver, seeking his fourth term, now leads Democratic challenger Christine Williams by a 319-314 margin. Six absentees that were mailed out to voters before the election have not been returned, according to City Clerk Lesa Hardin. Those must be postmarked by election day and must arrive at City Hall by 1:30 p.m. June 15 to be counted.
On Wednesday, election officials accepted and counted 10 of the 15 affidavit ballots cast for Ward 1, with Williams winning those by an 8-2 margin. That allowed her to cut into the 317-306 advantage Carver had after Tuesday’s tally.
Five affidavits were rejected Wednesday because it was determined the voters did not live in the ward.
Carver originally was credited with 319 votes after absentees and election day votes were counted Tuesday. However, after a recount Tuesday, two of those votes were invalidated because of voters making unclear markings on their ballot.
Still, Carver said he feels confident going forward even with the tarrying ballots.
“I feel wonderful,” Carver told The Dispatch. “I just know they will go through the procedural process and check. It’s great to win my fourth term, and I’m looking forward to continuing working for Starkville.”
Williams, who lost to Carver in 2017 by only six votes, would need all six of the absentee ballots to be returned and cast for her if she hopes to win — or five returned and cast for her to force a tie. If any of the outstanding absentees are returned for Carver, or if fewer than five are returned at all, he will win.
Even so, Williams isn’t quite ready to concede.
“I like to see the good,” Williams said. “Hopefully, the people return the ballots, and I hope they will be in my favor.”
Williams said she will determine if she will challenge the results after the possible absentees are returned Tuesday.
“I’m going to wait and see what happens with these last voters and kind of decide from there,” she said.