Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: No Results Tuesday in Oakland Mayor's Race

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters likely will not post updated results today in the Oakland mayor's race because it's still not done counting provisional ballots.

Update 2:38 p.m.: Spokesman Guy Ashley said that there are "hundreds" of provisional ballots still to count. The registrar's office hopes to finish counting them by tomorrow. Thursday is a county holiday — it's Veteran's Day.

Update 2:44 p.m.: Just to be clear, the delays in posting results are being caused by the laborious process of counting provisional ballots. These ballots are cast by voters who show up at a polling station on Election Day but their names are not on the official roster for that location. It took ten days to count them all in the 2006 Oakland mayor's election. The reason is that each ballot must be checked to see if it was cast by a registered voter. The signatures on the ballots also must be validated against the registrar's official records. The ballots also must be checked to make sure they were cast in the proper district. For example, if a voter in District 6 shows up at a District 4 polling station, they're not allowed to vote in the District 4 council race.

Update 2:51 p.m.: The count also is slow because representatives from the Don Perata and Jean Quan campaigns are on hand, watching the counting and asking questions of the counters about whether some ballots should be added to the totals or thrown out because of some defect. Perata, whose campaign is still flush with cash, has had up to three reps there, while Quan, who has depended on volunteers, has usually had one. The Rebecca Kaplan campaign has sometimes had a monitor there, too.

Update 3:05 p.m.: The registrar does not plan to post updated results until all the provisionals are counted. At that point, the registrar will run the ranked choice tabulation to determine who won the election. Running the computer tabulation typically only takes a couple of minutes. It's as simple as hitting a few key strokes and pressing enter. But the registrar decided not to post updates every day after contcerns were raised about displaying results that show candidates being eliminated from the race before all the ballots are in.

However, ranked choice voting advocates note that the candidates aren't really eliminated until the vote counting is over, and that the updates are just snapshots of the race as it currently stands. They also contend that the registrar should be posting these snapshot updates every day — even if the ballots aren't all counted — and that it should have begun on Election Night. They note that if the registrar had done that, then voters would have realized that the race was close from the beginning and that there never really was a clear frontrunner.

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