Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Election tallies change as final count nears

Sanitation District seat seesaws, as Kaplan apparent MAC-seat winner

By Daryl Kelley

As election officials moved toward a final count for the Nov. 4 election, results solidified this week: A school parcel tax has apparently lost, Betsy Clapp and Sue Horgan strengthened their hold on Ojai City Council seats, and Republican Tony Strickland inched farther ahead of Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson for the state Senate.
Yet, in two lower ticket races, a bit of intrigue remained.
Ojai Valley Sanitary District director William Stone saw last week’s 13-vote lead over challenger George Galgas evaporate as late-arriving absentee ballots were counted Monday. Stone now trails by just four votes, according to new tallies from the county Elections Division.
And in the race for a seat on the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Committee — an obscure panel that meets once a month and whose members receive no pay — the county registrar of voters said he thinks he will certify the election of challenger Gerald Kaplan over incumbent Alan Saltzman even though residents of the city of Ojai were improperly allowed to vote because of “human error.”
“My thinking is that I’ll certify the election as it was done,” said elections chief Philip Schmit.
But county lawyers told Schmit late Monday that he could also choose to void the election or certify it with an added explanation that the votes from Ojai did not alter the election. He said he thinks he will add the Ojai vote for informational purposes.
The MAC race results include more than 1,700 votes from Ojai residents that should not have been counted, since the city of Ojai is not within the unincorporated areas of the Ojai Valley.
Schmit said it’s not so simple to back the Ojai vote out of the MAC tally because some city precincts overlap into unincorporated county territory. But he said Kaplan’s lead is so great that city voters did not change the result of the election.
Kaplan led by more than 1,000 votes — 4,901 to 3,828 — through Monday.
“Mathematically, there’s a chance,” said Schmit. “Logically, there’s no chance. The end result would be no change, except maybe in Chicago.”
An Ojai Valley News analysis of early tallies in the MAC race show that even if the Ojai votes were backed out, Kaplan would still win handily. That’s because Kaplan gained fewer than 200 of his 1,073-vote advantage from city voters. Ojai voters favored Kaplan 960 to 777, county data showed three days after the election.
Schmit said the MAC error resulted from elections workers using a MAC boundary map that showed Ojai within the district. But in 1996 the county changed that boundary to exclude the city, because the City Council gives representation to city residents on local issues. The MAC gives a similar voice to county residents.
The MAC, formed in 1974, advises the county Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors on planning, development and other issues.
Schmit said the voting error occurred because Steve Offerman, an aide to county Supervisor Steve Bennett and executive director of the valley MAC, approved the map for the vote. There had been no MAC election for at least 14 years, so elections officials wanted to double-check the boundaries with Offerman.
“It was human error,” Schmit said, “but not by this office.”
Offerman said last week that the mistake was a “human error” by the Elections Division.
Kaplan, a semi-retired business consultant, has said he thinks the tainted vote can be remedied without a new election, perhaps even with a good-natured flip of a coin. Saltzman, a retired attorney, was traveling and unavailable for comment. Any challenge for the certified result would be up to him, Schmit said.
About 3,000 late absentee and 14,000 provisional ballots were still uncounted in Ventura County on Tuesday. The count should be complete this week, election officials said, except for the Strickland-Jackson race, in which a 10 percent hand count was completed Monday because it is so close. In the hand count of about 20,000 ballots, no difference was found from the computer count, Schmit said.
The $10-million Jackson-Strickland race was the most expensive legislative contest in the state.
In several updated tallies, the two former Assembly members, who are ideological bookends, have swapped places. But in recent updates, Strickland has consistently moved ahead, and now leads by about 2,200 votes.
Jackson, a Santa Barbara resident, has held a 10-percentage-point lead in Santa Barbara County, but Strickland, a Moorpark resident, has led by seven points in the larger Ventura County part of the district. The tiny segment in Los Angeles County has also sharply favored Strickland.
Observers think Jackson could close that margin in the provisional count because provisional ballots are often cast by newly registered voters, such as college students. And Democrats, led by President-elect Barack Obama, fared very well with young voters nationwide.
In other Ojai-related races, small business owner Clapp maintained her lead in the five-person City Council race. She’d received 1,538 votes by Monday. That’s a 234-vote lead over incumbent Sue Horgan, who slightly increased her lead over Suza Francina for second place and the second open seat on the council.
Francina trailed Horgan by 145 votes.
Meanwhile, the Ojai Unified School District parcel tax initiative lost a little ground and stood at 65.3 percent approval; a two-thirds super majority is required for passage.


Anonymous said...

November 18, 2008
6/6 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
- MIKE LENEHAN 698 11.57%
- RAE HANSTAD 1,024 16.97%
- MARY SUE HORGAN 1,381 22.89%
- SUZA FRANCINA 1,266 20.98%
- BETSY CLAPP 1,638 27.15%
WRITE-IN 26 0.43%
Total 6,033 100.00%

Anonymous said...

Francina is trailing Horgan by 115 votes...

Anonymous said...

And Betsy Clapp now has a 257-vote lead over incumbent Sue Horgan.

Anonymous said...

why are there not any current stories on the OVN Blog?