Thursday, June 5, 2008

County Has About 37,000 Ballots to be Tabulated

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 11:47 AM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters plans to post updated election results this afternoon, possible affecting about a half-dozen local races. Spokesman Guy Ashley said that voters turned in roughly 37,000 absentee and provisional ballots on Election Day and those votes are not reflected in the totals on the registrar's website. That means that at least 17 percent of the total vote from this election has yet to be tabulated.

So far, 175,735 ballots have been counted and posted on the website, and when the registrar's office completes the remaining 37,000 or so, the total number of votes cast will be about 212,000-plus. That's still a dismally low voter turnout of only about 29 percent. By contrast, countywide turnout in the February presidential primary was more than 60 percent. Ashley said there are about 30,000 absentees and about 7,000 provisional ballots to be tabulated.

Ashley said his original estimate that the office would be done counting by Friday, "may have been too optimistic," especially for provisionals. Those are ballots that poll workers hand out to voters whose names did not appear on the rolls in the precinct they showed up to vote in. Registrar workers have to examine those ballots to make sure each voter who used one is actually registered to vote and didn't already vote at another precinct or by absentee.

The estimated 37,000-plus uncounted ballots could be enough to tip the scales in several close contests, as we noted yesterday. Of particular interest is the District Three, West Oakland-downtown, city council race. Currently, incumbent Nancy Nadel is only 113 votes above 50 percent — the threshold she needs to avoid a November runoff against challenger Sean Sullivan.

In addition, Oakland school board member Alice Spearman is currently only 22 votes shy of the 50 percent threshold she needs to stay out of a runoff with challenger Doris Limbrick in the District Seven, East Oakland-Elmhurst race.

Other tight contests to watch include Alameda's Measure H, the school parcel tax, which is 119 votes shy of the two-thirds threshold needed to pass; the Oakland City Council at-large race between the current second and third place finishers Kerry Hamill and Clinton Killian; the Oakland school board District Three race (West Oakland-downtown), in which Jumoke Hinton Hodge is leading Olugbemiga Oluwole by 308 votes; and the Oakland City Council District Five (Fruitvale-Glenview) race where incumbent Ignacio De La Fuente is 166 votes above the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff against challenger Mario Juarez.

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