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Absentee Ballots Could Change Race Outcome for Nazareth Council

Race for Ward 2 seat too close to call until vote totals are certified next week; one incumbent will stay, one will go.

... out? Maybe not.

Incumbents and Stoudt will find out next week -- when absentee ballots will be counted -- who keeps his seat on Nazareth Borough Council next year.

Due to , the absentee ballots could change the outcome of who won the second of two available council seats in Ward 2. (The other seat was easily won by newcomer , who appeared on both major party lines.)

Preliminary results from Tuesday's election show Heckman, a Democrat, ahead of the Republican Stoudt by 112-110, but those figures are unofficial -- and do not include absentee ballots cast in the ward.

In brief phone interviews on Thursday, both candidates seemed confused by the delay in counting absentee ballots, but both seemed to take it in stride.

“There's nothing we can do about it,” said Stoudt, 73, the council vice president.

Heckman, 62, said he is prepared for the final vote to go either way. “We'll see,” he said, simply.

It is not clear why the absentee ballots from Ward 2 have not yet been counted, albeit unofficially.

Absentee vote totals for most Northampton County voting districts -- including the other two wards in Nazareth -- are included in the unofficial summary of election results online at:

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/lib/northampton/northamptonvote/precinct.pdf

The results listed at the county election site for Ward 2, however, do not include absentee vote totals -- even though Heckman and Stoudt both say they saw names of absentee voters listed at the polling site after the polls closed Tuesday night.

Names of the absentee voters, that is, not the names of the candidates for whom they voted.

However the seeming omission of absentee vote totals happened, all will become clear once the vote totals are certified by the Northampton County Election Board.

That leads to another wrinkle. All county offices are closed today (Friday) for the Veterans Day holiday, thus the official vote count will not begin until next week. That means it could be almost a week until the candidates and Nazareth voters learn who won the second Ward 2 council seat... if anyone did.

A potential dead heat is a further twist to the tale. Heckman says he was told five absentee ballots were cast in Ward 2. Stoudt said he heard it was “five or six.”

In either case --- though more likely if the correct number of absentee ballots is six -- the election could wind up in a tie.

A tie vote would require flipping a coin or other “50-50 chance” tiebreaker for choosing who stays and who goes on council.

As of Thursday night, both candidates seemed ready for any outcome.

Nazareth Patch will report the official vote totals as soon as they are released.

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