By Allen Payton
According to the Contra Costa County Elections website, as of 10:43 am, Wednesday, November 23dr, Dr. Sean Wright maintains his lead in the race for Mayor of Antioch. But it has shrunk to just 102 votes or .34% of the vote over incumbent Mayor Wade Harper. There are “approximately 8,500 ballots to be repaired and 28,000 provisionals county wide,” said County Clerk & Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla. The final vote count is expected to be completed by Friday, December 2nd.
“I can call all the races right now in the county except for Antioch Mayor,” he continued. “We’re down to ballots that have come in at different times. Ballots with mistakes could have come in at any time. Provisional ballots tend to come in late, generally on Election Day.”
“There are two different trends happening,” Canciamilla explained.” If you look at Election Day results, Sean does better. So I would have to think he does better with provisionals. But I don’t know how many are from Antioch.
There are roughly 607,000 registered voters in the county. We had 442,000 who have cast a ballot. We had a turnout of almost 73%. So a rough number is 11% of the provisionals come from Antioch. Those should theoretically trend in Sean’s favor.”
“All the other races are callable with the exception of Antioch,” he stated. “It is the election that will represent the slogan that ‘every vote does count.’ Every vote could impact the final outcome and it could go either way, right now.”
He was asked how many ballots had been counted since the last update.
“I believe in that batch it was 9,200 ballots that were counted,” Canciamilla responded. “If you extrapolate the traditional line you get to the point where Wade wins. But that doesn’t take into account the Election Day trend which favored Sean. But we’re at the point where there’s no clear, consistent trend that would allow us to make anything close to a valid projection. It’s going to be slogging through and counting them one by one, now.”
“We have multiple sets of eyes looking at each ballot,” he added.
He was then asked if representatives of each campaign can be there to oversee the counting.
“We always welcome observers,” he replied. “Each ballot has to be handled one at a time, and they get handled by multiple people and it just takes time.”
Asked if observers can challenge ballots, he said, “No. The law doesn’t allow observers to challenge an individual ballot, an individual signature match. You can raise issues and they’re entitled to an explanation.”
“At this stage there are very few ballots like that,” Canciamilla continued. “That’s usually over voter registration where it’s a question of if someone is registered or not. This is about whether people have drawn an arrow or crossed something out. If there’s a mistake or a double vote on one item we don’t throw out the whole ballot.”
He was then asked when will the ballot count be completed.
“We anticipate we will have our final unofficial count by next Friday (December 2nd),” he shared. “Then we’ll certify it by the 6th for the presidential election and until the 8th for everything else.”
“Then it goes to the Board of Supervisors on the 13th for their acceptance,” Canciamilla explained. “It will be done that morning.”
Asked about when oaths of office ceremonies could be held, he responded, “We advised the cities, and the school and special districts early on. I sent them a letter that due to the complexity of the ballot, we anticipate requiring the full 30 days to certify the election. So don’t plan on swearing in their folks early, like the week before.”
Asked when is the soonest new officials can be sworn in Canciamilla said, “That night (December 13th) is fine. It doesn’t have to be accepted by the Board to put it on the agenda. You just won’t have the actual OK from the Supervisors. It doesn’t have anything to do with the notice stuff. It’s not up to them to certify the election. Just accept the results.”
He was then asked about recounts.
“There are time frames for people to request recounts,” he stated. “If it gets close enough to where it becomes an issue we will sit down with the candidates and the City to figure something out. The reality is…recounts can be very expensive.”
“The goal is we want people to be comfortable with the results and they’re fair,” Canciamilla added. “This is an unusual circumstance.”
“Of all the races on the ballot, right now this is the only race too close for me to feel comfortable calling,” he reiterated.
For more election results, visit www.cocovote.us.