Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alexandria City Council Primary Despair

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Alexandria City Council Primary Despair

You threw your hands up in despair when it came to presenting the Alexandria city council primary results. Unlike the mayoral and statewide contests where you reported straight-forward and meaningful percentages, you couldn't use the official board of elections statistics showing Amy Jackson with 11% of the vote because it doesn't mean the same thing as Mark Levine's 11% in the lieutenant governor contest, so you shrewdly resorted to a front-page bar chart where Amy Jackson's bar looks about twice as long as Meronne Teklu's, but doesn't very precisely measure Amy's "political mandate." If, instead, the board of elections had programmed the computer to base percentages on the number of ballots cast for between one and six candidates (each ballot counts only once for the denominator), rather than on a denominator "inflated" by voters being allowed to choose up to six candidates, you could have had percentages likely closer to those in the table below computed by using the total number of votes in the mayoral contest to estimate a plausible denominator:

candidate               Estimated Votes        percentage

John Taylor Chapman   13,284                    58%

Alyia Gaskins               13,167                     57

Amy Jackson               12,144                     53

Canek Aguirre               10,954                    48

Sarah Bagley               9,810                       43

Kirk McPike               7,958                       35

Kevin Harris               7,336                       32

James Lewis               6,606                       29

Meronne Teklu               6,605                     29

Bill Rossello               6,350                       28

Patrick Moran               6,200                       27

Bill Campbell               6,188                       27

Mark Shiffer               4,087                       18

While 4% of city voters left governor blank (despite the generous selection of candidates) and 10% left lieutenant governor and attorney general blank, only 2% of city voters were apparently only interested in the statewide contests and left the mayoral contest blank. By using the number of votes in the mayoral contest as a plausible denominator for computing more meaningful percentages for city council candidates, Amy Jackson won the support of a much more meaningful 53% of those estimated to have voted in the city council contest, a statistic readers readily could compare to the mayoral contest. While this table shows how well each one did in a way comparable to how you presented and most voters would understand the results in the mayoral contest, your resort to a bar chart was, indeed, the best you could hope to do under the constraint of a tight deadline, given how the board of elections reports statistics.

Dino Drudi