Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Unexpected 'Middle' Update--Sten's In

This should have been an election wrap-up post, but we've got a couple cliffhangers yet to resolve. People roll their eyes when you say that every vote counts, but don't tell that to Tobias Read, who lost by a single vote to Mike Bohan in House District 27. They're gonna have to run those through the machine again, I suspect. [see update, below]

But the major unresolved race is Erik Sten's. As of this morning the unofficially completed tally gave Sten JUST enough to declare victory at around 430AM, securing a razor-thin re-elect percentage of 50.52. Ah, but hold the phone! As The O's blogging crew notes this morning, through a quirk of geography not all Portland voters are Multnomah County voters. There are a few very small pockets in both Washington and Clackamas Counties.

Clackamas appears to be finished with their count, and gave only 58 of 153 votes to Sten, with Burdick getting 60. That's right--out in the hinterlands, not only does Erik not pull 50%, but Ginny's actually more popular. The same is true in Washington, where 42 of 87 votes went to Burdick, with 30 going to Sten. However, there are still four precincts left to count, and those are slated to be tallied this morning by 11AM.

I tried to reach people in WashCo Elections, but understandably the honchos there are a bit pooped and haven't come in yet, and the 2nd shift didn't have too many answers so far this morning. I'm trying to get an estimate of remaining Portland votes within those final four precincts, to see what Sten's chances are for ending the suspense. If you add his 88 votes to Multnomah's total, his percentage dips a little to 50.48%, so it will take a fair number of adverse votes to force a run-off (assuming Multno's numbers stay pretty true to current figures).

Just as an example, I doubled the current number of "outside" votes and applied the same vote distribution, and Sten's share only drops to 50.45%. You want another speculative example? Factor in 10 times the current counts (so that Sten receives 880 new votes out of 2400), and his total goes to 50.15%. It would take over 2,500 uncounted votes, with a fairly strong deterioration in Sten's position among those votes, for a run-off to occur. So unless counts change fairly dramatically (which is not an unheard of possibility, of course), let us be among the first to congratulate Commissioner Sten on his new term in office.

Update, 1030AM--
Kari Chisholm helpfully corrects the Tobias error in comments. As I replied, I made the mistake of listening in on a conversation at ACME last night, lamenting the one-vote margin. Re-reading the results this morning, I saw Reed's WashCo totals and it jogged my memory of the conversation. As Kari points out, Reed's Multno totals gave him the overall lead.

As for Sten, a little more confusion. I called the WashCo Elections people again, and was told that they're going to count the final four precincts tomorrow? I was trying to pin down how many Portland votes they thought they had left to go over, but what I got was an update on their totals for Sten's race: Burdick 69, Sten 61, others 29. Which means that Sten actually gained compared to the last update, strengthening his position.

Update, 11AM--
Curiouser and curiouser--Anna Griffin at The O is now reporting that Multno has about 3,500 ballots left to tally that would not feed into the machine properly. That throws the whole thing back into doubt, depending on where they come from. Sten was seemingly confident at the new Lucky Lab pub last night, while his numbers were stuck at 46%. He was waiting for Southeast precincts to roll in, where he claimed to have about a 5-1 advantage over Burdick. West Hills voters turned in their ballots earlier, and more heavily weighted towards Burdick. A little frustratingly, Multno elections bigwig John Kauffman doesn't predict a resolution today. "We have 20 days after the election before we can certify." Boo.

Update, 1230PM--

The svelte lady cyclist has sung. Or conceded, anyway. As noted above, with some additional WashCo numbers, Sten is at 50.48% overall. You couldn't slip a slice of proscuitto under that margin!

More on the elections later today...