Fain Leads, but Ballot Questions Delay Decision in UAW Presidential Election
The fate of the UAW presidency hinges on 1,608 challenged ballots, according to an email Saturday night from one of the two presidential campaigns in the union’s runoff election.
Shawn Fain, who is challenging incumbent Ray Curry for the presidency in the union’s first direct election of top leaders, was leading Saturday but not by enough of a margin to secure a victory, according to a news release from Fain’s campaign.
That email said Fain was leading by about 645 votes after counting had been completed for the first batch of resolved challenged ballots.
“The majority of the challenged ballots revolve around questions of membership eligibility, a time-consuming process to resolve,” the release said, noting that the count, which began Wednesday, would resume “at some point this coming week.”
Those ballots are to be stored in Dayton, Ohio, at a secure site run by election vendor Merriman River Group, the release said, noting that the count might resume at a location other than Dayton.
“The boxes containing the ballots have been signed and sealed, and observers from the Members United slate and UAWD will be present when the boxes are unsealed. In the meantime, the court-appointed UAW monitor will be gathering information to resolve challenges,” the release said. The UAW Members United Slate is Fain’s slate, and UAWD refers to the dissident Unite All Workers for Democracy caucus.
The Curry campaign provided a statement about the situation Monday morning:
"The process that UAW members have chosen requires that every member’s vote be counted. We can confirm that there are significant votes outstanding that should be counted, and it would be premature to make outcome assumptions at this time. We are confident that when the process is complete, we will be successful."
A message seeking comment was sent to a representative for the independent UAW monitor.
Unofficial results posted online by both campaigns have had Fain in the lead, but the difference between the candidates narrowed considerably on Saturday. The release from the Fain campaign put the percentage difference at 50.2% to 49.8%, which appeared to align fairly closely with numbers that had been posted on both campaign vote tally sites earlier in the day.
The Curry site listed the total votes in the presidential race at 137,464; the Fain camp listed the total at 137,591. It wasn’t immediately clear why the numbers varied.
On Saturday night, the monitor’s website, which noted that 141,548 ballots had been received by the deadline on Tuesday, had posted vote tally sheets for all but two of the UAW’s regions, Region 4 and Region 8.
Although the fate of the presidency remains unclear, unofficial results posted previously by the monitor indicate that Daniel Vicente beat Lauren Farrell on a vote of 4,347 to 4,025 to take the Region 9 spot. A vice presidential spot is also up for grabs in the runoff and current UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who heads the union’s Ford department, had a comfortable lead over Tim Bressler for the remaining vice presidential spot, according to information posted by both the Fain and Curry camps.
The runoff election marks the second round of the direct election process that kicked off last year. Direct elections mark a departure for the United Auto Workers and stem from the union’s agreement with the federal government in the fallout from the long-running corruption scandal. That agreement gave UAW members the opportunity to determine how they would pick their top leaders.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org.