Silbiger's lead over Vavra narrows to 78 votes

After leading the race for City Council seat No. 5 by 364 votes, incumbent Russ Silbiger's winning margin has slipped to just 78 votes over opponent Pam Vavra.

Results posted by the Jackson County Elections Office at 1 a.m. Wednesday showed Silbiger with 49.36 percent (3,617 votes) and Vavra with 44.39 percent (3,253 votes), with 59 percent of the ballots counted.

The unofficial final results, posted at 7 p.m. Wednesday, showed Silbiger with 46.6 percent (4,633 votes) to Vavra's 45.82 percent (4,555 votes).

All ballots that were machine countable have been processed, Donna Connor, elections deputy for the county, said.

"All the ones that we had ready and did not need special treatment have gone through," she said.

The leftover ballots need to be sorted and hand counted, she said.

This includes ballots kicked out by the counting machine and potential signature challenges.

When a signature on a ballot is questioned, it goes through one or two reviews, Connor said, so the signature may be approved and not challenged.

Overseas ballots, replacement ballots and updated ballots are held out to make sure they are not duplicates, Connor said, and ballots cast by voters lacking identification required to vote in federal elections by the Help America Vote Act are also held out.

"You have a slew of this stuff," Connor said.

Countywide, the elections office received 101,981 ballots, with 98,935 counted, Connor said. This leaves 3,046 ballots left to be addressed, some of which will be accepted and some which will likely be rejected, Connor said.

The elections office will be sorting these ballots today before they can start counting them, she said.

"There's not going to be any more returns until at least tomorrow," Connor said.

The ballots have not yet been sorted by precinct, so there's no way to know how many Ashland ballots are left to be counted, she said.

She said the Ashland precincts were large and lots of ballots needed extra attention.

"It's just too early to know if that's going to stand," Connor said of Silbiger's lead.

Once all the votes are tallied, if the difference between the candidates is 0.2 percent or less, a recount is automatic, she said.

Candidates can also request a recount, she added.

Silbiger said he is not worried.

"I saw the last update," he said this morning. "That was rather a surprising shift."

Silbiger said he is just waiting for the final results.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "It would be nice to get it over with one way or another."

Vavra said she does not expect the outcome to change.

"I'm just thrilled that I came this close," she said. "It's really exciting. I'm just really grateful there's so many people who support the things I believe in."

Vavra said she is surprised at the number of undervotes — ballots with no vote filled out for that race — for council seat No. 5.

There were 2,355 undervotes for that seat, according to the elections office.

"A lot of times undervotes may really be votes," Vavra said.

She is not sure if requesting a recount would be an option for her, or if she would do it, but her campaign team is considering it, Vavra said.

"If it were the case that these undervotes would be more closely examined in a recount, it might be the right thing for the community," she said.

Staff writer Kira Rubenthaler can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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