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Knoxville Mayoral Primary Election Yields Tight Race

By John Disque

mark padgett madeline rogero

What a day at the polls in the mayoral primary election in Knoxville yesterday! As the day progressed and the numbers started coming in, there were computer glitches, unconfirmed numbers, premature celebrations, problems at the voting locations, ballots that had to be hand-written and a whole lot of breath-holding.

I'll spare you the details of the parties and just get right to it:

With just 29 provisional ballots (questionable votes regarding eligibility) left to count the numbers are as follows:

16,500 people voted.

Madeline Rogero = 8,235 votes
Mark Padgett = 3,736 votes
Ivan Harmon = 3,683 votes
Joe Hultquist = 698 votes
Bo Bennett = 148 votes

What does it mean? Madeline Rogero captured 49.91% of the vote and was just 15 votes shy of winning the primary election with a majority. If she had captured 50.1% she would have been Knoxville's new mayor.

Can the provisional votes still give her the election? Yes, but it's very, very unlikely. Historically, over 90% of these votes are deemed ineligible and, at best, 2-3 will count. A hearing will be held Thursday to validate the 29 provisional ballots. At that point the election will be official.

"Early and absentee voting" had Rogero at 53%. The Election Day's numbers, however, would tell the whole story and as the night went on. Padgett's, Harmon's and Hultquist's percentage began to rise while Rogero's began to fall.

If the Rogero-numbers stayed below 50% a General Election (run-off election) would occur between now and November 8, 2011 with the top two vote-getters on the ballot. Naturally, one was going to be Madeline Rogero but who would be the other? At that point, the race was between Padgett and Harmon with Hultquist being the spoiler. In the end, Padgett beat Harmon by a mere 53 votes.

It's almost official. There will be a General Election between Mark Padgett and Madeline Rogero.

The Rogero voters are quite secure at around 8,200. It's the Harmon votes that can make this very, very close. Will they come out to the polls again in November? Can Padgett pick them up?

Don't underestimate the Hultquist and Bennett voters. They total 846 can be the ones who decide this election.

Above all, don't forget about the 90,000+ registered Knoxville voters that did not make it to the primary polls. Are they still reachable and what will it take to get them to the polls?

Published September 27, 2011

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