A single vote.
That’s all the separated at-large City Council candidates Julia Mejia and Alejandra St. Guillen when a fierce, two-and-a-half-day recount came to an end Monday afternoon.
Mejia, a community activist, finished ahead by one ballot, carrying 22,492 votes to St. Guillen’s 22,491, according to certified results.
“It really goes to reinforce the message that we’ve been promoting all along, that every vote matters,” Mejia, who is slated to become the city’s first Latina councilor, told reporters. “I think now we have an amazing lesson to share with the city of Boston, how important they are in this process.
“I feel relieved because we worked so hard and because there were so many people who joined our campaign, because they wanted to believe in something,” she added.
St. Guillen announced Tuesday she has decided not to challenge disputed ballots in court.
The razor-thin margin is a striking finish to what was already an unusually close race.
Unofficial results on Election Day put the two candidates apart by a gap of 10 votes as each vied for fourth-place in the eight-way race to secure a seat on the council.
St. Guillen, an immigrants right advocate, initially conceded the race when the margin was thought to be higher that night, but both candidates later sought a recount.
Election officials ultimately announced that the margin shrunk to eight votes in a final tally.
The recount launched on Saturday, lasting three days as workers tediously reviewed 67,011 ballots by hand.
The Election Commission held a hearing late Monday regarding two contested ballots.
Gerry McDonough, an attorney representing St. Guillen, asked officials to reconsider its rulings on over a dozen additional ballots he’d contested earlier on, The Boston Globe reports.
McDonough said certain ballots may be invalidated under state law because some voters voted for Mejia by both filling in the circle next to her name and also writing her name in the write-in space, according to the newspaper.
Dennis Newman, Mejia’s attorney, disagreed.
“You have done a [proper] job in ascertaining the will of the voter,” he told the commission.
He added that not counting those ballots would “disenfranchise the voters.”
The board opted to not reconsider the ballots, the newspaper reports.
Still, volunteers for St. Guillen’s campaign told The Globe that the appeal was made because the commission was indecisive on how to interpret the law during the recount, and thereby had invalidated ballots with similar markings that would have been counted for St. Guillen.
St. Guillen announced on Twitter Tuesday that she made the decision not to challenge the matter in court.
“Last night, I believed that I owed it to my supporters and the voters to fully review the results from the recount before moving forward,” she wrote. “After weighing all the options with my team and my family, I have come to the decision to not move forward with a court challenge.
“I am so grateful to every person who supported me over this last year in our campaign to build a better Boston for all,” she added. “I am so proud of what we accomplished and, even though we came up short, I feel like we are all winners.”
Lastly, I want to congratulate City Councilor-Elect @juliaforboston on running an inspiring campaign and showing us all what we can accomplish when we have the courage to walk in our power. I know you will be an excellent councilor and I am proud to have you represent me. 4/x
— Alejandra StGuillen (@astguillen) December 10, 2019
St. Guillen also offered her congratulations to Mejia, for “showing us all what we can accomplish when we have the courage to walk in our power.”
On Monday, Mejia said, “For me it’s always been about building political power in low-income communities, and the more opportunities we have to demonstrate the value of our vote, the better this world is going to be.”
I am so overwhelmed by today’s results. Thank you to all 22,492 people who believed in this #MejiaMovement. Today goes to show that #EveryVoteCounts.
I want to thank my team who have been here from the beginning all the way to today’s final count. #ItsTime pic.twitter.com/wjSVnGaI1c
— Julia Mejia (@juliaforboston) December 9, 2019