West: Is the election finally over?



Whew, the election is over.

Oops, make that the Cannon County General Election. It’s almost over.

What do I mean?

There’s much more involved in getting the final count in any election. A lot more, if you can believe that.
Most of us think voting is just a matter of pushing a button on an electronic keyboard and whoop, the election is over and done.

Actually, the truth is much more complicated with a number of steps necessary to get a completely accurate return.

But isn’t all computerized?

Yes, there are computers involved in the process, but still much of the work is done individually by hand, including “scanning” in the signatures of each voter. Huh?

Remember, when you voted you had to present a voter registration card and your driver’s license (or some other form of ID). Then you signed a form. That form must be electronically “scanned” into the system. And that is just one of several things that must be done by election personnel.

Eventually, after all the information is gathered and the votes cast and recorded, the election office has to generate a series of reports including a summary of all the votes cast in each race. There were about 130 candidates on the ballot in state and local elections with 4,125 voters. And let’s not forget the write-in candidates.

And yes, there was a power outage. That didn’t help the situation, Cannon County Election officials had to rely on flashlights and power from a fire engine to complete the initial count.

A precinct-by-precinct report wasn’t available until Thursday (Aug. 14). It came in a stack of papers nearly an inch thick.

And none of the vote totals are “official” yet. That will require yet another once over by the Election Commission and a vote by commission members. Whew....

But how did the TV stations get their results so fast?

Generally, they depend on the Associated Press for those initial vote totals. They have a person (sometimes a news reporter, but sometimes just a knowledgeable person in the community) that goes to each election office in the state. Those persons tally the vote as it comes into every election commission and then reports it (by phone) to a centralized office in Nashville. Those totals are passed on to Associated Press members by the wire service.

Often, TV reports with winners with only a portion of the actual vote counted.. Usually, I would say 99 percent of the time, these projections are accurate.

So there you go... A little explanation of how the complicated process works.

Woodbury Alderman Adam Melton has penned a new book about Cannon County’s Sheriffs from 1836 to 2014.
Included in this list of public servants is a section on my Grandfather Cling West, who served two terms as sheriff in 1954 to 1958.

In those days, county spending was sparse (like that has ever changed). My grandfather even had to supply his own patrol car, a 1952 Plymouth. I remember that car well. It was quite a vehicle. Following his second term, he sold it to mail carrier Willie Burger, who used it on his route for years.

Pa West didn’t even carry a handgun. Even though he had to face down a few. Those were the days and prisoners were rare in the old Cannon County Jail. Pa and his wife (my grandmother), Lena Todd West, lived in the jail. She was cook and chief bottle washer. That was great fun for all the visiting grand kids. (In particular, yours truly).

He did make some changes including banning spitting and whittling in the Courthouse. No more spittoons. Even spitting on the sidewalks was banned. The restrooms were cleaned up and all the offices were painted. He renovated the courtroom, putting in a platform for the judge to sit on and new tables for the defendants and plaintiffs. Folding chairs were installed for spectators.

His staff was small too. Joe Brandon was chief deputy and E.B. Moulder was constable with part time deputies Lonnie Smith and Howard Blair. He was known for helping those less fortunate and for spoiling his grandkids.
He earned his moment in glory when he stopped a bank robbery on the Square.

But that is a different story....