GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTIES aroused by what is now 11 days of waiting for election officials to clean up their counting act once and for all and the fact that he evidently didn't win the first time around, it is not exactly surprising that Sterling Tucker is calling for a whole new election. But the fact that he is talking about filing some sort of suit to stop the certification of returns next week is no reason to assume that another District mayoral primary is in the offing - or even should be. There are important distinctions between a protracted, bumpy count and a defective or inaccurate one.

Lord knows, there's no question that the counting operation has been an administrative circus. And slow, for sure. But there is no evidence to date of fraud of any defect serious enough to conclude that the election returns won't reflect a fair expression of the voters' will when they are finally tabulated.

For that matter, Mr. Tucker didn't even wait for a complete count before charging that the results won't be any good, and that even a recound would be "useless": "I don't care what this new count will show," he said yesterday. "I don't think anybody will believe it." That strikes us as a reckless thing to say at this point, no matter how clumsy the ballot-counting operation has been. For now, Mr. Tucker, as chairman of the City Council, should be assuming some constructive leadership in seeing to it than the count is completed as quickly and as carefully as possible. Is that too much to expect?