While Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker says he will wait until the official Nov. 17 canvass to see if he wins a third term, or Jackie Biskupski becomes the new mayor of the state’s largest city, the numbers are decidedly against him.
Now, math is historically not a strong point for journalists – certainly me included.
But I think even I can figure this one out – and it doesn’t look good for Becker.
The preliminary count Tuesday night in the mayor’s race is 33,130 votes cast: 17,290 for Biskupski, 15,840 for Becker, or 52.19 percent for Biskupski to 47.81 percent for Becker.
This year, as you all know, was the city’s first all-mail-in-ballot election.
Those ballots had to be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 1.
By law, ballots mailed in (postmarked) on Election Day, Nov. 3, will not be counted – as any mail-ins after that date also will not be counted.
But provisions were made for those of us who were confused by that: Tuesday you could vote in person at four locations around the city, and you could drop off your mail-in ballots at those same places on Nov. 3.
Also, even if you were not registered to vote (which you would have had to be to get a mail-in ballot at your residence), then at those four locations on Tuesday you could register (with proper I.D.), get a ballot and vote.
Those are called “provisional ballots” and at a later date they are verified and counted – all part of the Nov. 17 canvass numbers.
Now, I don’t know how many ballots – not counted as of Tuesday night – will ultimately be opened, verified, and counted for the Nov. 17 canvass.
But let’s be generous and say that 10 percent of all ballots cast in the 2015 Salt Lake mayoral race will be those NOT counted Tuesday.
Since there were 33,130 ballots counted Tuesday, 10 percent would be 3,313.
Becker was behind Biskupski by 1,450 votes Tuesday night. So he clearly has to make those up in the 10 percent uncounted ballots in my example.
Subtract 1,450 from 3,313 and you get 1,863. Becker needs half of those ballots plus one, or 932.
Add 932 to 1450 – all the new votes Becker needs to best Biskupski by one – and you get 2,382 out of 3,313, or – drum roll please: 71.89 percent of the today uncounted ballots, if one assumes there will be 10 percent more ballots cast on Tuesday that were not in the preliminary count total.
That would be about three Becker votes for every one for Biskupski – for the mayor to win a third term in the Nov. 17 final canvass.
Of course, if more than 10 percent of the final count ends up coming on the after-Tuesday count, then Becker has a better chance.
But I don’t see that happening.
If anything, fewer than 10 percent of the ballots will come after Tuesday night’s count.
So while Becker may officially wait until the Nov. 17 count to concede to Biskupski, the numbers say Biskupski is the new Salt Lake mayor.