The Hamilton County Election Commission has no plans to administer a runoff election between District 9 candidates Peter Murphy and Yusuf Hakeem after certifying Hakeem's razor-thin margin over the councilman in a meeting last week.
Commission Attorney Chris Clem said commissioners had no plans to overturn their decision to void two write-in ballots in the District 9 race, giving Hakeem a simple majority of votes cast.
"We're not changing our decision," Clem said.
The decision to disregard two write-in ballots, which were marked but included no written name, gave Hakeem the one vote he needed to claim a 50 percent plus one vote majority over Murphy, who tallied only six votes less than Hakeem in the March 5 election.
Clem's statement came one day after Murphy requested Election Commission staff move ahead with scheduling a runoff between him and Hakeem, who is a former councilman for District 9. Murphy indicated that if an election was not scheduled, litigation regarding the results would be filed by concerned voters.
On Tuesday, the councilman said a lawsuit would be likely.
"Time is of the essence because it's an April 9 election, and the voters want their right to vote in the runoff—which is what they should have according to the certified results," Murphy said.
Murphy said that litigation would likely be filed by voters in District 9. The councilman, who is also an attorney, said that despite the commissioners' decision to call the election in Hakeem's favor last week, the Election Commission staff was not following through with their obligation to administer a runoff pursuant to certified results, therefore depriving district voters of their rights.
"It seems pretty clear to me that they certified the correct result, which is the result that requires the voters to have the opportunity to elect by majority rule their representative," he said. "This is about majority rule and democracy. And the certification that they made is compliant with that and requires a runoff."
Clem said that despite the certified election results showing all the write-in votes cast in District 9, an official audit of the election results conducted by the Hazlett, Lewis and Bieter accounting firm considered the awarding of victory to Hakeem valid. Clem said he welcomed the prospect of Murphy's lawsuit, saying that the City Charter may not have anticipated the election's outcome.
"We would be happy for a court to hear this," he said. "We would not be offended at all. We would be happy for someone else to make this decision. I told Peter to send me a copy of the lawsuit, and we'll agree to an expedited hearing. No one at the Election Commission was invested on this. We expected a lawsuit."
Attempts by Nooga.com to reach Hakeem, who said Monday he would be "legally prepared" to move forward in the event of a lawsuit, were unsuccessful on Tuesday afternoon.
A runoff election for District 4 is scheduled for April 9. Were a runoff scheduled for District 9, it would be on the same date.
As it stands, Hakeem is scheduled to be sworn in as councilman for District 9 on April 15, along with the rest of the council members.
Updated @ 3:45 p.m. on 4/9/13 to correct a factual error: The new city government leaders will be sworn into their posts April 15, not April 19, as originally reported.