The final results are in—and after counting all of the absentee and provisional ballots, there is a winner in the Democratic Party Primary for D.C. Council Member At-Large.
Incumbent Vincent Orange has defeated his challenger, Sekou Biddle.
It was a close race. Until Friday night, both campaigns were holding out hope that their candidate would win. After the previous week’s Democratic Primary, Orange led Biddle by 543 votes. But, when the ballots were counted, Orange’s lead grew to more than 1,700 votes—a margin greater than one percent—avoiding an automatic recount.
“We won't need a recount. So that's a good thing,” Orange said.
Arriving at the Lincoln Theater for emancipation day celebrations, At-Large Councilmember Orange declared his defeat of Biddle "a good victory."
“I'm here standing today despite the strong opposition that I had. It's been a long struggle to get back to this point. But we're back and we have a great agenda,” Orange said.
He says he received a congratulatory call and text message from Biddle and adds that he says both men wished each other well.
Biddle also congratulated Orange in a statement issued by his campaign, but went on to say “while the votes did not go in our favor today, it is clear from today's results that the majority of residents of the District want and expect more of their leaders than they are getting right now.”
“I promise to continue to serve the residents of the District and to hold our elected officials to a higher standard than they have been able to achieve recently," Biddle said.
That was a sentiment that seemed to surprise councilmember Orange.
“I wish Mr. Biddle the best in his future endeavors. I think he has a lot to learn. I think some of the things he engaged in in this campaign were less than becoming of a person who wants to become a councilmember,” Orange said.
Ahead of the election count, the staff at the Board of Elections hit a roadblock—when one of two ballot scanning machines stopped working.
“It was slow going. We were having some challenges with the machine. So we decided to go ahead and scan all of them on the same machine. It's why we have a backup,” said Alysoun McLaughlin of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.
Community activist Dorothy Brizill says D.C. voters should be concerned about the board's infrastructure and ballot counting process.
“And these machines were supposed to have been callibrated to count the ballots and one of them was not working today. People should really be concerned,” Brizill said.
The board meets on Wednesday to formally certify the election results. In the meantime, they will conduct a post-election audit—a hand-count of one precinct in each ward, comparing results against the electronic count.
Legally, the Board of Elections is required to do a recount if the margin of victory is less than one percent. In this case, it’s more than three percent. However, no matter the margin, any candidate can request a recount if he or she agrees to pay for it—which is not cheap.
Biddle’s campaign says it will not be requesting a recount. So, now, Orange will turn his attention to trying to win the general election.