Local election, primary results set to be certified Monday

By Thomas Wilson

   Unofficial winners are about to become winners.
   The Carter County Election Commission plans to certify Aug. 1 county election and state primary results on Monday. The certification will make official voting results for new county office holders.
   "Everyone who voted in this election -- regular voting, by mail and write-ins -- that list of voters goes to Nashville," said Tracy Harris, administrator of elections for the Carter County Election Commission.
   "We send a copy to the state coordinator of elections, the governor's office, and the state Republican Party and Democratic Party in Nashville."
   The state gives local election commissions 10 days to certify their results from Election Day. Harris said the commission planned to certify on Friday but the high number of write-in votes had delayed certification.
   Tennessee State Trooper Jerry Proffitt mounted a write-in campaign for sheriff, however, Harris said all of the 1,203 write-in ballots cast could not be attributed to him until each one was counted.
   Unofficial county election results had Dale Fair winning the county executive's race, John Henson winning a third term as county sheriff, and incumbent Register of Deeds Johnny Holder defeating Paul P. Buck in three contested county races.
   The biggest local Election Day shocker came in the Republican primary for the Fourth District House where challenger Jerome Cochran knocked off incumbent Rep. Ralph Cole by more than 350 votes, according to unofficial election results.
   Cochran will run unopposed in the state election in November.
   The Carter County Commission also experienced a turnover of almost half its 24 members on Election Day. Eight commission incumbents were voted out of office while three others did not seek another term.
   The commission reported 15,033 registered county voters cast ballots on Aug. 1. Of that number, over 4,900 citizens voted during the two weeks of early voting in July.
   The write-in count was highlighted by the usual smattering of would-be comedians who cast ballots for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Scooby-Doo, according to write-in ballots.
   "A state law was passed where we could count those votes as 'other' write-ins, if they were not legitimate people," said Harris.
   Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett also picked up three write-in votes from voters perhaps interested in bringing a touch of Margaritaville to Carter County.