Race for Tempe Mayor comes down to three votes

| March 14 2012
Christopher Cook

Mark Mitchell and Michael Monti both took 44.2% of the vote last night, which sounds an awful lot like a tie. However, Monti bested Mitchell by three votes:

It’s safe to say Tempe restaurateur Michael Monti knows what it’s like when the kitchen gets hot.

Well, the kitchen – in this case, the race for Tempe’s mayoral seat against longtime councilman Mark Mitchell – is officially hot.

With all precincts reporting and more than 18,000 ballots counted, Monti collected 8,112 votes compared to 8,109 for Mitchell in Tuesday’s primary election. That’s difference of just three votes put the candidates in a virtual deadlock with 43.9 percent a piece.

Monti and Mitchell will now face off in November.

The results will not be official until Friday afternoon, but its certain that Monti, a political newcomer, and Mitchell, a councilman since 2000, will advance to face each other in a two-person runoff during the May 15 general election.

According to Arizona law, this race is close enough to trigger a recount:

Once Arizona vote counting is completed, a race is not always over. Arizona has laws that trigger an automatic recount. These situations are outlined specifically in A.R.S. 16-661 section 4. The law reads as follows:

“A.R.S. 16-661. Automatic recount; requirements; exemption

A. A recount of the vote is required when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election shows that the margin between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a particular office, or between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to the lesser of the following:

1. One-tenth of one per cent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or upon such measures or proposals.

2. Two hundred votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is more than twenty-five thousand.

3. Fifty votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is twenty-five thousand or less.

4. Two hundred votes in the case of an initiated or referred measure or proposal to amend the constitution.

5. Fifty votes in the case of a member of the legislature.

6. Ten votes in the case of an office to be filled by the electors of a city or town or a county or subdivision of a city, town or county.

B. Subsection A does not apply to elections for precinct committeemen, school district governing boards, community college district governing boards, fire district boards or fire district chiefs or secretary-treasurers or boards of other special districts.
Put simply, when the race is called (the initial counts completed by whatever deadline Arizona officials decide to use) and only 200 votes come between the winner and the loser, it will trigger an automatic recount.”

No word yet on whether the teams who helped Christine Gregoire or Al Franken “win” their recounts will be available.

AZCentral has results from yesterday’s races here.

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