Registrar of Voters: No result for mayoral race

Jean Quan

City council member Jean Quan gives a press conference on the steps on city hall, despite no final results from the Registrar of Voter's office. Photo by Shirley Lau.

Staff from the Alameda Registrar of Voters office announced that they would not declare an official winner in Oakland’s mayoral race today, as a “few thousand” provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

Dave Macdonald, Registrar of Voters, announced at 4:00 pm that thousands of provisional ballots—ballots contingent on verified voter eligibility—remain uncounted but that a certified result may be available by tomorrow. “It’s possible by tomorrow, but I don’t want to make any commitments or promises,” Macdonald said.

Staff at the registrar’s office will continue counting provisional ballots until late into the evening, officials said. Residents fill out provisional ballots when they are not on the list of registered voters at their polling place. This can happen when a voter changes residences close to an election. The voter puts their completed ballot in an envelope with their information on the outside. The Registrar counts the ballot once the voter is found to be validly registered in Alameda County.

The latest ranked-choice calculation, released on Friday, showed city council member Jean Quan ahead of former state senator Don Perata by only 1,876 votes. Though every mail-in ballot has been processed—including several thousand votes that were not counted in the latest tally—Macdonald said that the ranked-choice voting software would not be used to calculate an updated result until the computer logs every uncounted ballot. “We won’t run [the software] again until all the votes have been counted,” Macdonald said.

Despite the lack of a certified result, Quan held a press conference at 4:30 pm on the steps of Oakland City Hall to thank supporters for coming out and answer questions from the press. She spoke about her priorities if she were to be officially elected mayor; the first thing she would take on, she said, would be “looking at the budget. We’re not laying off more officers.”

“I’m the author of [Measure] BB and BB made sure we wouldn’t have to lay off officers,” she said. “I may have had two victories Friday night,” she said, referring to the passage of Measure BB and being told that she had surged ahead in the vote count.

Oaklanders’ first experience with ranked-choice voting was punctuated by a dramatic upset. The first-choice results, released Tuesday night, showed Perata with 35.13 percent of the vote, a double-digit edge over Quan, but short of the majority required to win the election outright, prompting a run-off on Friday. Results that included the second and third-choice votes, updated Friday evening, showed a reversal from the initial rankings, placing Quan at the lead with 51.09 percent of the vote against Perata’s 48.91 percent.

Almost a week since the day of the election, Oakland voters still do not know who their next mayor will be. Despite the processing delay, Macdonald said his staff has been exceptionally committed, putting in 12-hour days and working over weekends to help certify an accurate result. “I’m very proud of the work my staff has done,” Macdonald said. “We’re well ahead of where we are normally.”

Quan said that she was eagerly anticipating the final count. “Trust me, I want a different result because my life is on hold,” she said.

The longer the final vote count is delayed, she said, the less time she has to prepare for her new position if she is elected mayor. “It’s not a lot of time,” Quan said. “If I win, I have less than two months to build a new administration.”

A press release issued by the Perata campaign Monday evening said that Perata’s lead in first-choice votes will work to his advantage as the uncounted ballots filter in. “While Oakland’s experiment with RCV software produced an unusual outcome,” the release read, “we remain confident that Oakland voters’ clear first-choice preference for Senator Perata as Oakland’s next mayor will hold true once every ballot has been certified and counted.”

Macdonald said that an exact time for the release of the complete results is uncertain, but that the race will end as the last provisional ballots are counted. “It sounds like a lot, but it’s just scanning,” Macdonald said. “When we process all the votes, that’s when its over.”

Alyssa Fetini, Laura Hautala and Shirley Lau contributed to this story.

Check out all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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