We are kind of used to early voting, which Cherokee Nation Election Commission calls, oxymoronically, In-Person Absentee Voting. That all happens before the election. Today, we’ve entered the brave new world of late voting, which occurs when the rules for an election change after Election Day. Only in the Cherokee Nation, right?
Well, there’s been a big fuss by both candidates about what this means, and if it’s fair. Today, we’re trying to figure out how much it will matter, if at all.
We have no official numbers, but our reliable sources say the election commission was not that busy today. Nowhere near what it was like for a typical day of early voting. According to the Election Commission, about 1100 people voted in early voting for the September election, in four days of walk-in voting. That’s 275 folks a day.
So let’s guess about half that today, just to be safe: maybe 150.
We know from the June election that Baker won the Tahlequah walk-in voting 609 to 427 (which of course is why he and Crittenden-- S. John Crittenbaker-- probably wanted it reopened after they took a close look at the turnout)
That’s basically a 60-40 split.
A 60-40 split for 150 voters is 90 for Baker and 60 for Smith. So, if Baker gains 30 votes a day on Smith, for five days, he’ll be 150 votes closer to (or further ahead of) Smith than he was before Baker asked for the rules to change. That’s not an insignificant number, but it’s hardly earth-shattering.
If Baker does gain 150 votes here, how many does he really gain overall? Because while his plan was only to allow Cherokees in Oklahoma to vote, the election commission said that to be fair to all Cherokees, absentee ballots could be turned in late too. And those tend to favor Smith. Using the original count numbers, Smith got about 56% of mail in ballots, to Bakers 44%.
So for every 100 late absentee ballots that come in, Smith would stand to gain 12 votes on Baker. Let’s just guess and say 200 total come in. So Smith nets 24, and Bakers gain is down to 126 votes. Finally, there’s the freedmen vote, but only the freedmen who haven’t already voted and aren’t already included in the 8787 voters that scared Baker on Sunday and had him asking for the rules to change.
Smith, Baker and everyone else seem to think most of those will go to Baker, but how many will that be? We’ve heard there are 1000 or so Freedmen voters. How many more will vote that haven’t already? 200? 300?
So here’s our guess, based on the facts at hand. Baker nets about 150 more votes than Smith on walk-ins. Baker nets 300 more than Smith freedmen votes that haven’t been counted. And Smith gains 30 or so on Baker with late absentee ballots. That means Baker's maneuvering to change the election rules after the fact might gain him 120 votes or so. The freedmen that he already has in his back pocket are another few hundred. So a best case scenario for Baker is he picks up 420 votes from where he was on Saturday. Is that enough to ease his fears? Considering that the voting was so close in June, he has to be at least happier.
Keep in mind, this is all guess work, but based on the known facts that we have on hand. Feel free to give your own guesses, but please use facts to back them up.