After a dead heat on Town Meeting Day, two Burlington candidates for inspector of elections will face off for a second time.
On April 4, incumbent Andrew Champagne will try to inch past challenger Adrian Burnett in a runoff election for the position in Ward 2. Voters can cast ballots at the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler in the Old North End.
The contest comes after the March 7 tally ended in a deadlock: 272-272. It's the first race in recent history with such a result, according to assistant city clerk Amy Bovee.
The circumstances are "kind of funny in a way, but it shows that democracy works," said Champagne, 53, who also serves as a justice of the peace and as a member of his Neighborhood Planning Assembly. "Every vote counts."
Still, the position they're vying for is "a pretty routine little job," Champagne added. The three inspectors in each ward work the polls on election day, issuing ballots, registering voters and counting votes. The position carries a three-year term.
Burnett, a 21-year-old Progressive, said he challenged Champagne, a Democrat, in an attempt to get more third-party candidates into elected office. Burnett currently works as director of canvassing for Rights & Democracy, a social justice organization. Last year, he volunteered on Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign and for the campaign of David Zuckerman, who won his lieutenant governor's race.
"Bernie kept saying we need to start running for really local level offices," Burnett said. "I definitely just wanted to get more involved."
Figuring out how to deal with a tie vote meant the city "had to do a little research," Bovee said. Under the statute, the city must hold the runoff between 15 and 22 days after the election, unless one of the candidates withdraws his candidacy.
Rather than withdraw, Burnett and Champagne have geared up for battle.
Both candidates have been making phone calls and reaching out to neighbors. Champagne sent out handwritten postcards to Ward 2 residents. Bovee said she expects a low turnout, but has sent out absentee ballots to every Ward 2 resident who voted absentee in the Town Meeting elections.
"I'm looking forward to the election," Champagne said. "We're always an advocate for voting and voting rights, and the polling place is a safe space and a sacred space, and I honor that."