McAllen runoff in limbo; provisional ballots still left to count

McALLEN — Based on the unofficial election results released after the polls closed on Saturday, the race for the McAllen City Commission District 5 seat is headed for a runoff election. However, there are provisional ballots left to be counted by Hidalgo County elections officials.

Incumbent District 5 Commissioner John Ingram received 570 votes (50%) compared to 461 votes (40%) for banker and businessman Victor “Seby” Haddad, according to the unofficial tally. The third candidate in that race, South Texas College professor Mark Murray, received 110 votes (10%). A candidate needs to receive more than 50% of the vote to win an election outright and avoid a runoff.

Still to be counted in the District 5 race are four Election Day provisional ballots that were cast, according to City Secretary Perla Lara, whose office oversees city elections. Provisional ballots in the United States are used to record a vote when there are questions about a specific voter’s eligibility that must be resolved before the vote can count.

Lara said she is waiting to receive the provisional ballots back from county officials, which are responsible for determining whether the provisional ballots count. City Attorney Kevin Pagan cautioned that this is an abnormal instance.

“It’s not unusual at all for the unofficial vote to be a one or two or three vote difference from the final canvass,” Pagan said. “And it usually doesn’t move the needle. But this outcome is unusual due to how close one candidate is to the 50% line.”

Ingram needs a net-gain of two more votes in order to win the election outright, Lara said. Otherwise, a runoff election is scheduled for June 22, the city said in a statement on Saturday night.

After the unofficial results were released on Saturday, the candidates were already preparing for another six weeks of campaigning.

In McAllen’s only other contested city commission race, attorney Tania Ramirez will likely be the next District 4 City Commissioner once the votes are canvassed at the May 13 city commission meeting.

Ramirez had no trouble defeating Joe Califa, a retired city planner. Ramirez received 499 votes (65%) compared to Califa’s 264 votes (35%).