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You Just Don't Get It, Do You?

By Joe Mathews

As you enter the gymnasium of the Longfellow Elementary School, the tabulation center for all ballots cast in Tuesday's city election, you encounter people talking about nothing but numbers.

Quickly, you find Edward J. Samp, a Law School graduate who chairs the four-person Election Commission that is supervising the tabulation. Maybe he can help you.

How are the votes counted, Mr. Samp? "First, take the number of offices and add one," he says. "Then divide that number into the total number of voters, take away the fraction and add one. Redistribute the surplus and you're done. Got it?"

You don't get it. You need someone who can give you the winners before the official count is finished. You need a pundit.

The elderly gentleman wearing a blue jacket and standing in the corner looks like he might be helpful. His name is Joseph Kuzek, Samp tells you.

You introduce yourself. He points toward the door. This conversation will take place outside. The walls have ears, you know.

Without a word, you surrender your pen and note pad to him. He writes.

"City Council. 1-Wolf, 2-Duehay, 3-W. Sullivan, 4-Toomey, 5-Reeves, 6-Russell, 7-Myers."

"That's too easy," you say, seizing the pen and pad. "The last two spots [the eighth and ninth] are the toughest to pick."

He takes back the pen and writes four names. "Walsh. Vellucci. Noble. Cyr."

He puts an "8" next to Walsh's name. "Sullivan's surplus vote will help Walsh," says Kuzek in a scratchy, barely audible voice.

And what about the last spot? "Wolf and Duehay could save Cyr, but I don't know." He eliminates incumbent Councillor Edward N. Cyr. That leaves School Committee member and former mayor Alfred E. Vellucci and former state legislator R. Elaine Noble for the last spot.

For the first time, Kuzek seems puzzled. "Got a hunch?", you ask. He shakes his head. You watch as he runs your pen back and forth over the two names. His hand shaking, he starts to write...

A question mark. In the end, you, like Joe Nuzek and more than 23,000 Cambridge voters, will have to wait for the official results.

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