The Austin Chronicle

Howard-Neil Race Still Twisting in Wind

By Lee Nichols, November 5, 2010, 6:21pm, Newsdesk

Dist. 48 state Rep. Donna Howard and her supporters celebrated when final tallies Tuesday night showed her with a 15-vote edge over Republican challenger Dan Neil. They shouldn't have – because the counting wasn't really over. The county still has to review possibly hundreds of ballots to determine if they're eligible to be counted.

While talk Tuesday night was of a recount, that might be a moot point. Since almost all of Travis County's ballots are cast electronically, the totals likely wouldn't change.

Ballots still uncounted are the bigger issue. These include provisional ballots (ballots cast by voters whose eligibility to vote was in question) and mail-in ballots received since Election Day. The county's Elections Division announced that 112 ballots were presented to the Ballot Board today for consideration.

Of even bigger concern to Howard: 3,059 mail ballots are still outstanding, 679 of which are Distric 48 ballots. State law requires that ballots mailed from overseas by November 2 must be received at the county clerk’s office no later than 5pm Monday, November 8.

Those ballots could be trouble for Howard: Overseas ballots are often from soldiers serving abroad, and the military ballot trends Republican. Certainly, a 15-ballot lead will provide the incumbent little comfort.

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