Updated Mon. Dec. 9, 2013, 5:55 p.m.: After a day of hand-counting five precincts worth of ballots, Republican Susan Shelley had called a halt to a recount of results in the Nov. 19 special election to fill the 45th District Assembly seat, clearing the way for
Democrat Matt Dababneh to take office.
Earlier: The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder on Monday began a recount of ballots in the Nov. 19 special election in which a Republican candidate nearly beat a Democrat for the northwestern San Fernando Valley seat.
Republican Susan Shelley asked for the recount after she finished 329 votes behind Matt Dababneh in the heavily Democratic district.
Shelley questioned the county's official total of ballots counted, saying it exceeded the number of ballots that election officials earlier said had been cast.
At issue is the number of provisional and vote-by-mail ballots the county estimated were waiting to be processed after the initial Election Day machine count. Those ballots are in signed envelopes and, before they can be counted, the signatures must be verified. Election officials must also verify that the people casting provisional or vote-by-mail ballots are not casting duplicate votes.
Efrain Escobedo, executive liaison for the Registrar-Recorder, said the estimate of ballots that remained to be counted on the day after the election was merely a estimate, not actual counts of ballots.
The county does the recount manually on a pay-as-you-go basis. Shelley has taken the least-costly approach, paying for four election officials to count ballots in five precincts at a cost of about $5,000.
Monday's count will continue until 5 p.m., at which time, Shelley may decide whether to continue or abandon the count.
In order to force a change in the outcome of the election, Shelley would have to pay to count all ballots cast in the election, nearly 30,000, in both Los Angeles and Ventura counties. About 150 ballots were cast in Ventura County. If the outcome changes in her favor, the county would refund the cost of the recount.