Officially, the 24 provisional ballots still sitting uncounted in a locked box at the Warren County Election Commission can have no impact on the final outcome of Tuesday’s elections.
Unofficially, their count could determine who gets a seat on McMinnville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen as a mere two votes separate the fourth and fifth finishing alderman spots.
When all election night votes were counted, incumbent Alderman Everett Brock led political newcomer Jason W. Gross by 875 votes to 873 votes for the fourth spot. The top three vote-getters are elected.
However, on the same night as they fell short of getting elected, Alderman Jimmy Haley won his bid for mayor, defeating incumbent Norman Rone.
That win means on Nov. 27, when Haley takes the oath of office as mayor, he will have to relinquish his alderman seat. It will then be up to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to appoint someone to fill the empty seat until the next regular election in two years.
While there is no requirement for the board to choose the fourth highest vote-getter, some say that would be the most logical answer as it would, in essence, let the people choose the heir to Haley’s open seat.
As for those 24 uncounted provisional votes, election administrator Donna Smith said there is no guarantee many will be counted, although she knows of two, both being from city voters, that will be allowed.
“We have provisionals from those who didn’t have a valid photo ID as the law requires,” Smith said, noting those people were allowed to come and present an ID until the close of business Thursday to have their votes counted. “The other are people who appeared at the polls and maintained they were registered but couldn’t be confirmed. They were allowed to cast a paper ballot and they will be held until their status as a legal voter can be confirmed.”
While Smith said there are two provisional votes which will be counted, she admitted it will be hard to guess how many of the other provisionals will be counted as their information was sent to the state on Friday.
“If half of those 22 remaining votes can be counted, well that would be a very big number in my book,” Smith said, noting she does not know how many of those are city voters. “I think we would be doing good to hear back from the state about them by the end of the week since all 95 counties will be sending in provisionals.”
The election itself will be made official Nov. 21 at 9 a.m. when it becomes certified at the election office located at Warren County Administrative Offices on Locust Street.