Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

November 9, 2009

Observations on the 2009 Cambridge Election – Part 1

Filed under: 2009 Election — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:52 pm

Nov 9 – There may be a handful of additional ballots to be included this Friday after 5:00pm in the Final Official Count for the Cambridge Municipal Election, but this will almost certainly not affect the outcome of the election. While we all stand breathlessly waiting for the results to be finalized, perhaps this is a time to make a few observations on this year’s election:

1) We were blessed this year with some very good new candidates, most notably Tom Stohlman, Minka vanBeuzekom, Leland Cheung, and Neal Leavitt for City Council and Alan Steinert for School Committee, to name a few. Let’s hope they all assume greater roles in civic affairs in Cambridge and perhaps consider being candidates again in the future.

2) While many were quick to dismiss Marjorie Decker’s chances as a write-in candidate, nearly all the incumbents and several of the challengers knew better as indicated by their concerns expressed at several Election Commission meetings prior to the election. Indeed, an often expressed sentiment was that she might actually have an advantage by being distinguished by the notoriety of the write-in campaign and by the ability to appeal to voters to give their #1 vote this time due to this special situation. She also had a great campaign manager in Jeni Wheeler and plenty of cash.

3) Newly elected Leland Cheung was not, in fact, carried into office by waves of MIT and Harvard students. Though he did well among the relatively few students who voted, Leland’s votes were spread uniformly across the city.

4) Though some activists in East Cambridge did their best to portray Tim Toomey in the worst possible light, he still managed to get 52.5% of all #1 votes in Ward 1. East Cambridge challenger Charlie Marquardt, in contrast, received 3.6% of the #1 votes in Ward 1.

5) Though it took longer than usual to review all the additional auxiliary ballots caused by the write-in campaign, the general consensus is that the process was thorough and accurate and relatively quick (once they got the hang of it).

6) The School Committee election was unusual in that 8 of the 9 candidates did quite well in #1 vote totals with 7 of them within a few hundred votes of each other. None of them reached the election quota in the 1st Count. In the deciding 5th Count, only 19 votes separated Patty Nolan and Joe Grassi. However, unlike the 2001 election when there was a near 3-way tie for the last 2 seats and a lengthy recount, the ballot scanners did not accept ballots with overvotes (or write-ins or blanks) and consequently almost all potentially challengeable ballots have already been reviewed during the two days after Election Day. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a recount would change the results, especially since there were no over-quota candidates and therefore no variability caused by which surplus ballots would be distributed.

Stay tuned. Once the Final Official results are in, much more analysis will follow.


Nov 5 – Unofficial Final Election Results (Thursday): Elected to the City Council – Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee – Richard Harding, Nancy Tauber, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).

Excel spreadsheets of Unofficial Final Election Counts (including auxiliary ballots)

Printable PDF of Unofficial Final Election Counts

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