Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Betty Yee claims 2nd spot on November ballot with narrow statewide margin

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Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee claimed Monday to have won the right to face Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in the November general election for controller, appearing to narrowly edge former Assembly Speaker John Perez out of second place.

The primary was June 3rd. But with more than half of California voters casting votes by mail, the task of verifying and counting ballots in the state's 58 counties has become a nearly month-long process, during which fellow Democrats Perez and Yee swapped second and third place many times.

Lake County in Northern California was the last, with 6,053 ballots left to count. They were finally counted Monday, and although Perez pulled in more votes in Lake County, the new votes appeared to unofficially give Yee 484 votes more than Perez statewide.

To be official, the Lake County registrar of voters must certify the count, the Board of Supervisors must ratify it, and then the totals would be sent to the Secretary of State to be added to the state totals.

Regardless, Yee issued a statement Tuesday morning claiming her place in the top two. Once the Secretary of State finalizes the results, Perez has five days to decide whether the 484-vote margin is small enough to prompt him to request and pay for a recount. His campaign strategist did not have immediate response to Yee's statement or comment on a recount Tuesday.

If Perez asks for a recount, it would be the first recount by a candidate in state history.

Here's how it works: A registered voter submits a written request for a recount on behalf of a candidate. The candidate puts up a deposit to pay the cost of the recount and selects  one or more of California's 58 counties as a starting place. The candidate may also select the order of precincts to be counted.

The candidate may choose a manual count in which four-member panels of election officials eyeball ballots one at a time to determine if they are valid and who gets the vote. The candidate may also ask for a machine count, or some mix of manual and machine counting. Whichever method is used, the updated tally is made official only if the entire county's votes are counted.

If the count of an entire county's votes flips the result in favor of the candidate who asked for the recount, then the candidate who lost votes may then choose another county to recount, bearing the cost.


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