Friday, October 7, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 13: What’s One More Week?

Yesterday, the election commission told us that even though we’ve already waited three and a half months since Election Day, and almost two months since inauguration of APCSJC, we still have to wait another week after voting ends tomorrow.

Usually on election night, they count the votes, declare a winner (unofficially), and they go home. Well, in June, their unofficial winner turned out to be different than their official winner, which may be why they want to take at least THREE DAYS to count the ballots this time, and then take up to another 48 hours after that to certify the election. That could put us into next Friday or Saturday.

The Election Commission did
put out a news release about this, which is how we know, and they have some explanations:

“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for Principal Chief, the Commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the Election Commission. “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief, but the Commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.”

The commission says they will count walk-in votes on Sunday, then spend Monday processing absentee ballots, getting them ready to be counted. Why do they need a whole day? The commission has a reason: “12,000 registered Cherokee voters requested absentee ballots, which means there were more than 3,800 absentee ballots requested in special election than were requested in the June general election.”

That’s a bunch more absentee ballots. We know there were about 700 more walk-in votes on election day, but also that
the increases mainly came in Smith areas. Now we find out that there are 3800 more mail-in votes possible (remember, not all those will be returned), and Smith had the edge on those in June as well, by about a 54-46 margin.

Which leads us to the last little chestnut from the election commission:

“Our sincerest hope is that the candidates will not speculate outcomes of this election until the last citizen’s vote is counted and that candidates will respect the Commission’s procedures and timelines that enable the Commission to fulfill its responsibility,” said Plumb.

We’re sure neither candidate would ever speculate--awwww… who are we kidding?? After all, they are going to count votes on Sunday, and presumably tell us who has the most, and then not count any more votes until Tuesday.

The ONLY thing that will happen between Sunday and Tuesday is speculation. Heck, there was speculation after the commission released TURNOUT figures about who was ahead, and we’re admittedly guilty of that (but at least we labeled it speculation). So Sunday night it will be interesting to see if our speculation from a couple of weeks ago is true: Did Smith gain ground on Baker in the walk-in votes? If so, by how much? If not, did Baker gain enough to offset what was a significant Smith advantage in mail-in votes in June, and might be larger considering how many more absentee ballots might now be in play?

Sorry Susan Plumb-- if it's going to take a week to tell Cherokees who their chief is, we’re pretty sure Cherokees will use that week to “speculate outcomes.”