Even as his opponent prepares to be sworn into office Monday, Michael Allen reiterated that he won’t concede the race for the 10th Assembly District seat until every last vote is counted. That could happen by Friday, when an estimated 15,000 provisional and absentee ballots in Sonoma County finally are tallied and the results of the Nov. 7 election are certified, according to county elections chief Janice Atkinson.
Odds are the outstanding ballots won’t alter the outcome of the race. At last count, San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine held a slim but statistically significant lead over Allen of 3,468 votes.
Sonoma County workers Wednesday set about the laborious task of counting and verifying tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.
Bins of uncounted ballots in the Registrar of Voters’ warehouse vividly illustrated the numbers of envelopes yet to be opened and examined by a staff of up to 24 election workers committed to the task.
It likely will take the full 31 days permitted by law to count them, said Janice Atkinson, county elections chief.
That will delay the naming of victors in at least three local elections, and none of the results for any race or ballot measure will be official until that final certification.
County elections officials are urging absentee voters to drop off their ballots this weekend at one of the nine sites established to ease the anticipated crunch on Monday and on election day. Nearly 185,000 vote-by-mail ballots have been issued for Tuesday’s election, a number that beats the previous record by about 15,600 ballots, officials said.
Sonoma County has issued nearly 185,000 vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election, a new record that represents 71 percent of registered voters.
But it also means that any close race — such as the 1st District supervisorial contest between Santa Rosa City Council members Susan Gorin and John Sawyer — may remain unresolved for up to four weeks after the election.
The burgeoning number of absentee voters, along with high voter participation and a lengthy ballot in the presidential election, virtually guarantees that officials will need the full 28 days allowed by law to tally the vote, county elections chief Janice Atkinson said Thursday.
The race in a newly created state Assembly district that ecompasses part of Sonoma County and all of Marin County is starting to heat up in one of the few contests statewide to feature two Democrats running against each other. Assemblyman Michael Allen and his challenger, Marc Levine, earned the right to compete for the 10th Assembly District under California’s new top-two primary system. The race has gained attention in part because it is one of about two dozen in the state pitting members of the same party against one another in the general election on Nov. 6.
Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday selected Bill Rousseau, the county’s longtime chief deputy assessor, to replace Janice Atkinson as the county clerk-recorder-assessor and elections chief. Atkinson, 58, is set to retire in December, two years into her second term in the elected post. She is one of the longest-serving county employees, having started her career in 1972.
California’s proposed $1-a-pack cigarette tax lost by less than a percentage point on Friday, while a North Coast congressional race still hung in the balance as Sonoma County accounted for 23 percent of the state’s untallied ballots. Sonoma County was one of 14 counties still counting ballots from the June 5 primary election, with 25,350 of the state’s 111,472 uncounted ballots, according to state figures. ‘Still counting, still feeding cards through,’ county elections chief Janice Atkinson said. ‘It’s just a slow process.’
A Sonoma County voter or candidate staying up late to watch Tuesday’s election results trickle in could be forgiven for having the impression that votes were being tallied slower than in previous years. At midnight — a full four hours after polls closed — the county Registrar of Voters’ website listed just 40 percent of precincts reporting, 149 out of 374. But the reality was the count was actually much farther along than anyone realized.
In an election with few hot-button issues, voter turnout in Sonoma County was ‘dismal,’ the elections chief said late Tuesday. About a quarter of the county’s 248,216 registered voters returned their ballots before Election Day, a total of 65,082. As votes from the county’s 374 precincts began to arrive at the elections office late Tuesday, Sonoma County Registrar Janice Atkinson said it appeared turnout would be among the lowest in years.