Republican Tim James’ political hopes rest on certified provisional ballots that are expected to be counted today in each Alabama county by their respective boards of registrars. The odds seem to be running against him.
Provisional ballots are those not counted for various reasons; often it is because the voter failed to provide necessary identification.
Officials say there are only 1,790 provisional ballots from last Tuesday’s primary elections that “might” be counted this year. That’s down from 2,376 in the 2006 primary.
No one knows how many of these are Republican ballots and how many are Democratic ballots. But if it is a 50-50 split, that means James will have less than 1,000 votes from which to get the votes he needs to move ahead of Robert Bentley and into the July 13 runoff with Bradley Byrne. James finished third in the GOP primary, 208 votes behind Bentley.
Recall that in 2006, approximately one-third of the provisional ballots in Alabama’s primary were counted as legitimate. If that estimate holds true this year, it would mean James would be down to less than 400 votes to make up the 200-plus vote difference.
Additionally, some of the provisional votes are likely to go to Bentley or other candidates in the Republican race. Put bluntly, it seems as if it will take a political miracle for James to make it into the runoff.
That doesn’t alter the fact that every legitimate vote must be counted. That’s why both James and Bentley have urged supporters who cast provisional ballots to go to the courthouse, present proper identification, and have their ballots counted.
There is a little irony in the provisional balloting this year, since James called for tighter voter ID requirements in one of his campaign’s television commercials. One wonders how many of those James supporters were caught by the requirements.
Probably not many, but every vote counts in this too-close-to-call race.
Plus, votes can be cast for many reasons. Consider the off-the-cuff remark that Auburn graduate James made about cutting Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s salary if James became governor. This created quite a furor on call-in sports-talk radio. One wonders how many provisional votes for Bentley or other candidates were cast by Alabama fans to protect their national championship coach.
Voters in other states may think voting against someone for joking about a coach’s salary is a silly way to pick a candidate.
This is Alabama.
Makes sense to us.