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‘Guess what I just found out — I won the election’: counting error puts Hutchinson on top in OUSD race

on January 4, 2023

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has acknowledged a mistake in the way votes were tallied in November, leading to a change in the District 4 Oakland Unified School District election outcome.

Mike Hutchinson, who seemingly came in last place, actually won, Hutchinson announced on Facebook Dec. 28. That day, the registrar posted on the county election site that its ranked-choice voting system “was not configured properly” for the November election. It said that only one outcome was affected — the District 4 seat. But the registrar did not say who won that seat, and the results certified on Dec. 8 and posted on the Alameda County election site still show Nick Resnick as the top vote-getter on Wednesday.

Voters were notified of the winner through Hutchinson’s Facebook post, which said, “Guess what I just found out……. I won the election!!!!!”

The registrar provided this explanation about how the system erred in computing ranked-choice votes: “It should have been configured to advance ballots to the next ranking immediately when no candidate was selected for a particular round. This means that if no candidate was selected in the first round on the ballot, then the second-round ranking would count as the first-round ranking, the third-round ranking would count as the second round ranking, and so on.  For the November 2022 General Election, the setting on the County’s equipment counted the RCV ballots in the manner in which the ballot was completed, meaning no vote was registered for those ballots in the first round of counting because those voters did not identify a valid candidate in a particular rank on the ballot.”  

The registrar said the city and school district were notified along with the California secretary of state. And while it said it was working with its vendor to keep such a mistake from happening again, the registrar did not detail what steps were being taken to ensure the system’s integrity.

No matter the outcome, Hutchinson was to remain a board member for at least another two years. That’s how long he has left in his term as the District 5 representative. When the OUSD districts changed as a result of the 2020 Census, Hutchinson found that he no longer lived in District 5 but in District 4. When Gary Yee decided not to run for reelection in District 4, the seat became wide open, with Hutchinson, Resnick and Pecolia Manigo competing for it.

Hutchinson has led the opposition against school closures, gaining consistent support only from board member VanCedric Williams. Even without Hutchinson’s apparent win, the board that will be installed this month will be made up of a majority that could press to keep this year’s planned school closures from happening. Last February, the board voted to shrink, merge or close 11 schools over the course of two years. The decision came in response to Alameda County Superintendent L.K. Monroe’s letter to the board in November 2021 about possible budget shortfalls and OUSD’s consecutive declines in enrollment

At the end of 2021-2022 school year, two schools were closed, two merged, and one downsized. The schools mainly served Black and brown students. Five schools that also fit that category are scheduled to close at the end of this school year: Brookfield Elementary, Carl B. Munck Elementary, Grass Valley Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, and Korematsu Discovery Academy. In addition, Hillcrest K-8 will lose its middle school.

Jennifer Brouhard, who was elected in District 2, and Valarie Bachelor, who was elected in District 6, are against the closures and have vowed to resurrect the issue. Their votes, along with Hutchinson’s and Williams, could bring a reversal of the decision.


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