PALMER — The three-way race for two Palmer City Council seats has not yet been determined after ballots were counted on election night.
The Canvass Board for the city of Palmer began meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. and continue to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to count ballots and verify the election results. With 4,896 registered voters in Palmer, only 16 percent of voters cast ballots in this year’s election if every one of the over 400 early, absentee, questioned and special needs ballots are accepted by the Canvass Board.
As the numbers stand until Friday, Deputy Mayor Linda Combs and Councilwoman Sabrena Combs have a narrow lead over newcomer Brian Daniels for the two council seats. Of the 4,896 registered voters in Palmer, 337 cast ballots in person on Tuesday, accounting for 6.88 percent of the registered voters. Voters in the city of Palmer cast a total of 466 ballots through early votes, absentee by mail ballots, special needs ballots and questioned ballots that were not counted in the initial report on Tuesday.
“We have received an amazing, just amazing response in our early voting,” said Palmer Clerk Norma Alley.
Alley said that on Monday, only 165 of the 229 absentee by mail ballots that were requested by voters in the city of Palmer had been returned. Absentee ballots that were returned to election officials on Tuesday or postmarked by 8 p.m. on Tuesday and appear in the mail by Friday will be counted by the Canvass Board.
“The ballots must be returned. They can be dropped off at the polls to an election official at the polls or in a ballot box by 8 p.m., tomorrow or it can be postmarked by tomorrow,” said Alley. “They will have to be in my hands by Friday’s mail run so I don’t want it to sound like they can drop it off at the drop box on Wednesday Thursday or Friday they cannot, it will not count.”
New election equipment utilized in the city of Palmer for the first time this year provided accurate information to voters as they submitted their ballot, alerting them if they had over-voted on the number of council members or propositions on the ballot. Voters that cast their vote for less than the required number of council members or did not vote yes or no on propositions will have their ballot counted. Ballots that had circles filled in over the amount per voting item were alerted at the time they submitted their ballot of the over-vote by the new election equipment.
“We allow for a margin of marking,” said Alley. “We understand the intent of this was to have that one be their vote, so if someone circles the whole thing and goes a little bit outside of the circle we allow for that margin of error and we allow for a margin of under circle filling. It will still allow it to be counted.”
After 337 voters cast their ballots on election day, three of the four propositions issued to voters are currently passing.
Proposition 1, which would repeal the ban on marijuana business within the city of Palmer is failing by 14 votes with 166 no votes and 142 yes votes. Proposition 2 which would allow the city to increase fines is passing by 11 votes with 157 yes votes and 146 no votes. Proposition 3 which would establish term limits on the council is passing by the widest margin of any issue posed to Palmer voters with 245 yes votes and 61 no votes. A bond for the wastewater treatment plant is also passing by a wide margin with 222 yes votes and 81 no votes.
Linda Combs received 178 votes on election day accounting for 22 percent of the ballots cast. Linda Combs lead on Sabrena Combs is 31 votes and 42 votes on Daniels with 466 ballots left to be counted. Sabrena Combs received 147 votes, accounting for 18.31 percent of the ballots cast on Tuesday with an 11 vote lead on Daniels.
Daniels would need to get 12 more votes than Sabrena Combs or 32 more votes than Linda Combs after receiving 136 votes on Tuesday accounting for 16.94 percent of the votes cast on Tuesday.