Socialist challenger Kshama Sawant pulled narrowly ahead of longtime Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin in updated vote totals released Tuesday afternoon.
Sawant, the first socialist to make a general election for Seattle City Council in 22 years, led Conlin by 41 votes — 79,751 to 79,710 — in the latest update. That translates to a 49.91 percent to 49.88 percent lead.
The close contest marks a stunning turnaround from election night, when Sawant was carrying 46.1 percent of the vote.
Since then, Sawant has steadily increased her share of the vote. On Tuesday, she won 57.4 percent of the 8,395 newly-counted votes in the race.
“Our result today is a confirmation of a systematic trend that we’ve seen since election day,” Sawant told reporters assembled at her campaign headquarters. “Many of the late voters tend to vote not for business-as-usual candidates.”
Countywide, King County Elections estimates there are about 62,000 ballots still to be processed. The number for Seattle is probably closer to one-third of that.
Officials also estimate there are about 9,700 ballots, again countywide, whose signatures have been challenged. Both campaigns worked over the weekend to identify and help any supporters with challenged signatures.
Sawant’s political director, Philip Locker, said the campaign had more than 100 volunteers knocking on doors over the weekend.
“That’s just the beginning,” Locker said. “We intend to make sure all ballots are cured and rehabilitated.”
Conlin did not immediately return a telephone message.
A mandatory machine recount will be triggered if the race is within 2,000 votes and 0.5 percent.