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January 9, 2013

No hanging chads, but election took forever

City councilors voted 302 times before filling vacancy

SALEM, Mass. — In this city known for its 17th century witch trials, officials tend to be deliberative in order to avoid mistakes. But even local folk were surprised to learn Wednesday that it took 302 separate votes to fill a vacancy on the city council.

It seems councilors steadfastly deadlocked 5-5 over two candidates during a seven-hour meeting a week ago when 300 ballots were cast, the last in the wee hours of the morning.

At the reconvened session Tuesday, the stalemate continued on vote 301, prompting both candidates to withdraw. On the 302nd ballot, compromise and unopposed candidate William Legault was appointed unanimously.

Legault, a freelance writer and fitness trainer, had been advised ahead of time his name would come up if the tie continued on the original candidates. He was quickly sworn in before anybody changed their mind.

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Details for this story were provided by the Salem, Mass., News.

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