Uncounted ballots could swing key elections
November 8, 2012
Election officials must still count 29,912 countywide ballots. The county clerk-recorder’s office says it plans to resume the counting process Friday.
Of the nearly 30,000 ballots remaining, 2,261 come from the city of Paso Robles. Currently, 44 votes separate incumbent councilman Fred Strong and challenger Jim Reed in the race for the second Paso Robles City Council seat. Former councilman Steve Martin holds a more than 600 vote lead on both Strong and Reed.
Nearly one-fourth of the remaining Paso Robles ballots fall under the category of non-processed, meaning the vote counting machine failed to read them. Many of the non-processed ballots, which election officials must duplicate in order to count, could contain write-in candidates, the clerk-recorder’s office says.
If a high percentage of the 624 non-processed Paso Robles ballots indeed contain write-in candidates, the election could very well swing in Reed’s favor. Reed, who ran as a reformer, aligned himself much closer politically to the Paso Robles candidates running as write-ins than to the incumbents.
While Mayor Duane Picanco will hold onto his seat, the non-processed vote tally could also bode favorably for the prospects of former councilman Gary Nemeth amassing a high total of votes as a write-in. More than 14 percent of the mayoral vote so far has gone to write-in candidates.
In Grover Beach, only 11 votes separate the yes and no tallies on the charter city initiative. Measure I-12, adoption of Grover Beach’s charter proposal, is currently passing by the slim margin, but a flip in the vote is very likely due to distribution of a flyer making false claims about the measure late in the election season.
Upon initial tally of vote by mail ballots, voters approved of the charter initiative by more than a 9 percent margin, but support for the measure waned as ballots cast on Election Day arrived.
The controversial flyer, issued by political strategist and member of the SLO Democratic Central Committee Cory Black, wrongfully claimed that the charter measure would result in higher costs to taxpayers and an increase in pay for council members.
Multiple elected officials in Grover Beach are considering filing a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission against Black. Black paid about $3,000 for the misleading flyer that included numerous violations. As such he could face fines of around $9,000.