The Philomath City Council race for the final seat between Jessica Andrade, left, and David Low appears to be headed to a hand recount. (File photos by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Based on the most recent Nov. 8 general election results published on Wednesday evening by the Benton County Elections Office, Philomath City Council candidates Jessica Andrade and David Low appear to be headed to a recount.

The latest update shows Andrade still leading Low by just one vote at 1,225 to 1,224 for the sixth and final seat on the council. Both incumbents picked up nine votes following the completion of the election office’s ballot signature challenge period.

The top five have earned their seats on the council — Christopher McMorran (1,709), Teresa Nielson (1,606), Matt Lehman (1,523), Diane Crocker (1,473) and Ruth Causey (1,248). Those five, along with Mayor Chas Jones, will be sworn into their positions in January.

For now, the sixth person who will be raising their right hand on that evening remains in doubt until confirmation through the recount occurs.

Ruth Post, Philomath’s city recorder, explained the process to councilors during their Nov. 28 meeting.

“When it comes down to two councilors for the final seat that are within five votes, those are the only ballots that are going to be recounted,” Post said. “They are not going to recount everybody’s.”

The Philomath City Council results were close overall with 46 votes separating fifth from ninth. The update showed Peggy Yoder in eighth (1,209) and Catherine Biscoe in ninth (1,202), which was only 16 and 23 votes, respectively, behind Andrade. There were 71 write-in votes.

James V. Morales, director/county clerk of the Benton County Records and Elections Department, said recounts occur in “contests where the difference in votes cast between an apparently elected candidate and the closest apparently defeated candidate is not more than one-fifth of 1% for both candidates.”

If the hand recount has been triggered, election officials will need to extract the nearly 2,500 ballots submitted by Philomath voters out of the 45,000-plus that were cast throughout Benton County.

“They have been working on that, I assure you,” Post said, her information coming out of a discussion with Morales. “That has been their task at hand.”

Based on information that Post received from the county clerk, the hand recount would likely begin on Dec. 5 and would take two to four days to complete. The final results out of the recount would be forwarded to the Philomath city recorder for certification.

What if Andrade and Low end up tied following the recount? Post said there is a process in place as described in city code.

According to Section 6.2, “in the event of a tie vote for candidates for an elective office, the successful candidate shall be determined by a public drawing of lots in a manner prescribed by the council.”

In other words, it would come down to drawing a name out of a hat or tossing a coin.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.