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Mary Starrett Faces Impossible Math For A Win, Hopes For A Recount and Runoff

Mary Starrett is the former Communications Director of the national Constitution Party, as well as the gubernatorial candidate of the Oregon Constitution Party in 2006–a race in which she netted over 50,000 votes, or 3.6%. She is running for a seat on the Yamhill County Commission a non-partisan position. The election for this seat took place on May 18th, 2010, but the results were so close that a recount was suspected. A mere 13 votes now separate Starrett from Stern, with roughly 50 ballots left to be counted.

Stern would need to pick up 41 of them to avoid an automatic recount and 44 of them to prevent a November runoff. And the odds of another 50 votes splitting almost entirely one way, in a race in which the first 21,673 split almost dead even, are almost insurmountable.

In fact, they are impossible for Starrett. Only Stern has any mathematical chance.

When initial counting wrapped up about 3 a.m. Wednesday, Stern stood at 10,843, Starrett at 10,830. Together, they accounted for 21,673 votes.

Stern-Doll said her office still has to tally about 40 ballots that were cast by Yamhill County voters, but deposited in drop boxes in other counties. She figures it will also have to tally about 10 ballots that were subject to signature verification and end up passing muster.

People notified the signatures appearing on the back of their ballot envelopes did not appear to match those on file with the county have until May 28 to fill out new registration cards and get their ballots counted. Stern-Doll said there are about 65 of them, but in the past, only about 10 have actually followed through by the deadline.

Oregon law dictates an automatic recount, at no expense to the candidates, any time the margin works out to less than 1/5 of one percent of the total votes cast between the two candidates. Write-ins do not figure into that calculation, only into the subsequent runoff calculation.

One of the candidates would have to forge a 44-vote lead to fend off an automatic recount. That would be possible only for Stern, and then only if she picked up 41 of the 50 remaining votes, holding Starrett to a gain of nine.

The article goes on to explain what would happen if no candidate scores 50%, because of a number of write-ins:

Stern-Doll conceded it seems fairly likely there will be a recount, and, if so, fairly probable the election will be re-run in November.

That would mean six more months of campaigning and fundraising for each of the two candidates and a brand new ballot for each of the county’s almost 50,000 registered voters.

Starrett said a November election would be welcome because it would give her more time to spread her message. She said she never anticipated doing this well in her Yamhill County political debut.

“God has a sense of humor,” she said. “He really does.”

Sources say that Starrett has raised and spent roughly $10,000 on this race.


  1. Amy Coburn Amy Coburn May 25, 2010

    10,000…..where did you get that number? Certainly not from her C and E’s…..sigh. It is simple to look on the secretary of state’s website and see how much was spent. Great reporting. I know folks want the world to believe money was spent hand over fist to campaign against a two term incumbent, in truth very little was spent. Democrats/liberals spent three or four times as much as a conservative just to achieve the same result.

  2. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk May 25, 2010

    Good idea, hope Gary is on this.

  3. Trent Hill Trent Hill Post author | May 25, 2010

    Any Constitution Partiers on IPR–if you’re concerned about winning a race this cycle, I suggest donating to Mary. Her race is quite winnable, thinks are swinging in her favor (the November election will be better for her, I think). However, she needs cash for mailings and such.

    If you’re in Oregon:
    “Oregon allows a $50.00 per person, $100.00 per couple/per year write-off for political contributions.

    In other words, either you give money to the political campaign of your choice or the state takes your “contribution” and keeps it!”

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