A Benton County Elections ballot drop-off box sits in front of Philomath Community Library. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Although the Philomath City Council voting numbers could again be updated in the coming days, if the current election results remain intact, it would automatically trigger a recount.

James V. Morales, director/county clerk of the Benton County Records and Elections Department, provided an explanation.

Election Update: Philomath City Council’s top 6 changes again

Local candidates trying to win the sixth seat on the Philomath City Council have been involved in an excruciating close election with Peggy Yoder, David Low, Jessica Andrade and Catherine Biscoe all within a handful of votes of one another. In the latest update from the Benton County Elections office late Wednesday afternoon, Low moved…

“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 percent for both candidates,” Morales said. “In the case of the six Philomath City Council positions, the sixth position is really the focus here. As it currently stands, a four-vote difference would trigger an automatic recount.”

The most recent update shows incumbent David Low in sixth place with 1,193 votes, incumbent Jessica Andrade in seventh with 1,192 votes and challenger Peggy Yoder in eighth with 1,189 votes — those three all within four votes of one another.

Morales said a candidate would not be required to file a challenge to request a recount.

“Not in this scenario,” he said. “The county clerk would call for the automatic recount if the criteria that trigger the process are met.”

If a candidate would otherwise contest the results, an option would be to file a petition in circuit court.

As of the last countywide update, 44,580 ballots had been counted out of the 60,863 registered voters — a voter turnout of 73.3%.

From left, David Low, Jessica Andrade and Peggy Yoder. Just four votes separate those three in the latest update from the Benton County Elections office. (Campaign photos)

The Benton County Elections office so far has posted three updates of the results and each time, the candidate sitting in sixth place changed. In the early release on Election Day, Low was in sixth by one vote over Yoder. Later that night, Yoder took over sixth and led Low by three votes. Then following an update on Wednesday, Low returned to the sixth spot by one vote over Andrade.

Morales said “returns will be updated as we reach certain post-election milestones” and as they previously planned. Based on information posted on the county website, the next anticipated update will occur at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Ballots to be included in the next update include those that were postmarked by Nov. 8 and are received at the elections office no later than Nov. 15, as well as Benton County ballots that were turned in to other county election officials, Morales said.

Morales added that late ballots also include those that are challenged “where the voter has responded to and resolved the challenged ballot in question with us by the Nov. 29 resolution period deadline.”

The top five candidates in the City Council election include challenger Christopher McMorran (1,662 votes), incumbent Teresa Nielson (1,563), incumbent Matt Lehman (1,490), challenger Diane Crocker (1,435) and incumbent Ruth Causey (1,222). Then comes Low (1,193), Andrade (1,192), Yoder (1,189) and incumbent Catherine Biscoe (1,178).

For mayor, which represents the seventh seat on the City Council, incumbent Chas Jones defeated Lawrence Johnson 1,784 to 606.

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.