The too-close-to-call race for a Prince George’s County Council seat has gotten even closer, elections officials said Thursday, with Deni Taveras pulling 10 votes ahead of Del. Doyle Niemann, and only a couple of dozen or so ballots left to be counted on Monday.
The remaining uncounted votes are from absentee ballots that arrived at the Board of Elections office in Largo after Election Day but were postmarked before the deadline, deputy elections administrator Daneen Banks said. Many were mailed by voters overseas or out of state.
So far, election officials have 23 ballots to count on Monday, though it is possible a few more could arrive in the mail Saturday or Monday.
Niemann and Taveras say they will be there to witness the final round of counting, along with attorneys and other campaign aides who will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
Election officials say they have never seen anything like it.
After early voting and Election Day ballots were tallied, Niemann, a veteran politician, was six votes ahead of Taveras, who is making her first run for elected office and focused her campaign on reaching out to newly registered Latino voters.
The counting of the first round of absentee ballots gave Niemann seven more votes, for a 13-vote cushion.
But Taveras, the political rookie, made up that deficit and built a 10-vote lead when election officials tallied 74 provisional ballots on Wednesday.
Provisional ballots are given to voters who are eligible to vote but are not on voter registration lists when they appear at the polling place. They could have tried to vote in the wrong precinct, or simply moved and failed to update their address. An election official determines whether the individual is eligible and gives them a provisional ballot.
Taveras won 49 of the provisional votes, compared with 25 for Niemann. She has 2,416 total votes; Niemann has 2,406.
The winner of the Democratic contest will run uncontested in November’s general election, and barring an unusual development will head to Upper Marlboro in January to represent District 2, Prince George’s County’s “international corridor,” home to municipalities such as Hyattsville and Cottage City and generations of immigrants.
Neither candidate has said whether he or she will seek a recount if the contest does not end in their favor.