Thursday, June 13, 2024

A Richard Harding campaign sign remains up in Cambridge’s Central Square on Monday. (Photo: Marc Levy)

A Cambridge School Committee seat has been swapped again during a Friday vote count, returning Richard Harding to the committee after Andrew King was counted in Nov. 9.

The advantage held by King at the time was razor-thin – only three ballots put him ahead of Harding – and Harding ended the Friday count eight votes ahead.

There were 11 candidates competing this year for six committee seats, with two incumbents choosing not to run. Members serve two-year, at-large terms.

Harding, who’d served seven previous terms on the committee ending in 2017, was declared a winner Nov. 7, when poll workers and the city’s Election Commission finished a first, unofficial count. In Cambridge’s ranked form of voting, secondary votes cascade from one candidate to another if they win with more votes than are needed and as others are eliminated for having too few votes to be elected. On election night, that meant that Harding made it onto the committee on the ninth count – the eighth round of vote transfers – even though when looking at the number of people awarding each candidate their No. 1 rankings, he had 1,765 to King’s 1,879.

On the third day of Cambridge vote counting with auxiliary ballots – those that failed to go through a tabulating machine or had some other issue – first-time challenger King was swapped in.

Friday’s latest count added ballots that were from overseas absentee voters or provisional – that is, from people who were not on a voters list when they checked in to cast a ballot, or whose information was listed wrong. Seventeen misplaced auxiliary ballots were also included.

If King wants a recount, a petition with at least 50 signatures in support is due to the commission by 5 p.m. Wednesday – and in Cambridge’s complicated form of count, there is cause to not count King out. In 2013, the commission agreed to a recount petition from city councillor Minka vanBeuzekom when challenger Nadeem Mazen was 14 transfer votes ahead.

Cambridge’s School Committee as of Friday evening was Rachel Weinstein, Elizabeth Hudson, David Weinstein (no relation to Rachel Weinstein), Caroline Hunter, Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal and Harding. The city’s mayor is the committee’s leader and seventh member.

Voice mails were left Friday with Harding and King seeking comment, but neither replied immediately.

John Hawkinson contributed to this report.