Election 2014: Lori Droste Leads in District 8 City Council Race by Only Four Votes- Count Not Complete Yet (News Analysis)

Rob Wrenn
Tuesday November 11, 2014 - 09:42:00 AM

The Registrar of Voters has almost finished the count of absentee and provisional ballots and Lori Droste is still ahead of George Beier, but only by four votes, 2058 to 2054, or 50.05% to 49.95%, for the Council seat currently held by Gordon Wozniak. 

Droste has 29.04% of first choice votes to 26.55% for Beier. 

Today is a holiday and counting will resume and should be completed on Wednesday. Registrar of Voters staff had worked through last night in hopes of finishing the count. But as of their 1:34 a.m. report, there are still an unknown number of ballots to be counted. 

When the Election Day counting ended, Beier was ahead by 25 votes in Round 4 of ranked choice voting. In the counting since then, Beier's lead had dwindled and Droste had a 12-vote lead at the end of Sunday's count of late absentee and provisional votes. 

A total of 362,813 ballots have been counted countywide so far, including 15,186 counted yesterday, most of them provisional ballots. Last Thursday, Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis had estimated that about 75,000 vote-by-mail and about 24,000 provisional ballots remained to be counted. Since then, 107,915 ballots have been counted. 

Turnout countywide totals 44.57% so far. Turnout figures for Berkeley are not yet available though it was definitely higher than 45%. In the last 35 years, turnout has always been at least 55% in Berkeley in November elections. 

The Registrar will conduct a 1% manual tally next Monday to verify the accuracy of the vote count. In the event of a very close final vote in District 8, the losing candidate, or anyone else, could request a recount, but would have to pay for it, providing a deposit in advance of each day's count. The County's Guide To Requesting a Recount states: "If upon completion of the recount the results are reversed, the deposit shall be returned". "Set-Up and Day One Cost with One Recount Board - $5000." 

In 2012, The Alameda Transportation Commission requested a recount of votes on Measure B1, the transportation sales tax measure (similar to Measure BB which passed this year) which fell just .14% short of the required two-thirds vote. After a partial recount, costing under $8000, the Commission called off the recount after it failed to produce hoped for additional votes in areas of Berkeley with sizable undervotes and strong support for the measure. 

As of 1:34 a.m. today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 5:05 p. m. Sunday) 

Berkeley City Council District 8  

First Choice Votes 

Lori Droste 1304 (1263) +41 

George Beier 1192 (1154) +38 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1162 (1129) +33 

Jacqueline McCormick 824 (790) + 34 

There are slightly higher numbers in the Ranked Choice Voting table on the County Web site: Droste - 1308; Beier -1197; Alverez Cohen - 1164; McCormick - 831. 

For all the City Council races, the count in the Ranked Choice tables seem more up to date than the count in the other tables on the Registrar's Web site