Will final ballot count alter race?

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2000

Whether unofficial mayor-elect Sally Smith can hang onto her slim, 209-vote lead will be decided tonight when city officials count questioned and absentee ballots.

About 1,200 questioned and 100 mail-in absentee ballots are being reviewed by the city's Data Processing Review Board, according to City Clerk Laurie Sica. Those deemed valid will be counted beginning at 5 p.m. today in Juneau Assembly chambers.

"I don't expect any change," said Jamie Parsons, who placed second in the three-candidate mayor's race. "The absentee and questioned ballots usually follow the vote."

Not always.

Smith was down 300 votes in a 1980 legislative race and won by a narrow margin after absentee ballots were counted, she said. "If people from the (Mendenhall) valley decided not to stop to vote because the weather was too crummy and they all voted in town," it could make a difference, she said this morning.

Smith expressed her caution by quoting Yogi Berra: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

To wrest the election from Smith, however, Parsons would have to score at least 58 percent of the remaining ballots, which is unlikely if election results are indicative. Parsons got 44.7 percent of the mayoral vote Tuesday, Smith 46.7 percent. Of the city's 19 precincts, Parsons received more than 58 percent of the vote in only one precinct in the Mendenhall Valley.

In one downtown precinct, Smith grabbed 78 percent of the vote.

Questioned ballots are those cast by residents voting outside their precinct, where their names don't show up on the register, Sica said. Those voters are asked to fill out a questioned ballot envelope with identification. The ballot is then voted and placed in a secrecy sleeve and envelope. Finally, it is placed in a separate compartment in the ballot box.

Tabulation results will be added to the unofficial election results and posted on the Internet at www.juneau.org. The returns then will be reviewed at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the assembly chambers, and the election will be certified at that time.

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