NEW BEDFORD — The challenger in the closest New Bedford race for city councilor is hoping to overturn the results from Tuesday's election by asking for a recount.

Leo Choquette Jr. went up against incumbent councilor Brad Markey on Nov. 2 in the city's northern Ward 1, which stretches from the airport up to the city border near Sassaquin Pond.

He lost the race by a thin margin of just 44 votes.

Choquette has already pulled papers to formally request a ballot recount.

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He said that although he wants to win, he’s doing it only because he has received so many calls, texts, and other messages from ward residents asking him for a recount.

“I’m not looking to spend taxpayer money,” he noted. “But if the taxpayers are blowing my phone up to do it, then who am I to say no?”

Although the 44-vote difference between his and Markey’s votes is greater than 1%, Choquette said switching just 22 ballots could change the outcome.

This year’s election had turnout at near-record lows, with only 10.8% of registered voters in the entire city casting ballots on Tuesday.

In Ward 1, 1,499 voters participated.

New Bedford officials said that Choquette will need 10 Ward 1 residents to sign the recount request papers, which have to be turned in by Nov. 12 to start the recount.

Once that’s completed, said city Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito, the commission will gather a small team to recount the ballots by hand.

“It shouldn’t take more than about two hours,” he estimated.

Choquette said it wasn’t easy for him to decide to ask for a recount.

“When you weigh all the elements, and include the fact that it was a historically small turnout, I think that the people deserve to know,” he said.

“I don’t want people to think I'm a sore loser,” Choquette added with a laugh. “I think both myself and Mr. Markey worked very hard, so let’s just have the question settled for all parties.”

Markey was not immediately available for comment.

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