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Election 2014: Perez persists in controller's race recount; Yee gets Democrats' cash

Richard Rios, an attorney with the Betty Yee campaign for state controller, reviews a ballot being recounted by hand at the Kern County Registrar of Voters office July 11, 2014.
Richard Rios, an attorney with the Betty Yee campaign for state controller, reviews a ballot being recounted by hand at the Kern County Registrar of Voters office July 11, 2014.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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After three days of recounting ballots in the state controller's primary race, only seven votes shifted in favor of former state Assembly Speaker John Perez.   

Perez requested the recount and his campaign is paying for it.  He placed third in the primary and is trying to gain enough votes to replace Democrat Betty Yee on the November runoff ballot. Whoever is second will face Republican Ashley Swearengin. Yee beat Perez statewide by a very narrow margin of 481 votes.

Perez gained three votes in Kern County and four in Imperial as counting ended Tuesday evening.

Under state law, those newly counted votes from each county cannot not be applied to the state vote totals or change the outcome of the election until all of a county's votes are recounted, either by hand or machine.

Perez campaign consultant Douglas Herman said he expected the count to finish in Imperial County late Wednesday, and for the count to begin in San Bernardino County soon. The count in Kern County continues.

Democratic Party funds Yee's recount response

On Tuesday, the Democratic State Central Committee gave the Yee campaign $50,000. Her campaign consultant Parke Skelton said the cash would help fund her response to the recount. Yee is the party's endorsed candidate.  

Both campaigns have dispatched lawyers, campaign operatives and groups of volunteers to closely observe the recount.

Why is the count moving so slowly?

Kern County could take weeks to count because ballots need to be counted by precinct.  But specific specific precincts are scattered between paper ballots marked at polling paces, rolls of paper from screentouch voting machines, and mail-in ballots.  

The Perez campaign has asked for hundreds of precincts to be hand-tallied in 15 of California's 58 counties, and for them to be counted one county at a time after Imperial and Kern counties. The one-at-a-time strategy is costing the Perez campaign thousands of dollars a day for personnel .  That's still more affordable than counting all 15 counties simultaneously. All recount costs must be paid to counties up front, before each day's work begins.

It's possible the county-by-county approach could take longer than the time left before mail-in ballots are due to be sent out for the general election. Those ballots will have to have November's candidate's names printed on them.

Citizen watchdog

In Kern County, Dorothy Meyer answered a call from Yee volunteer recruiter Martha Gamez to be a citizen recount observer. Meyer is a retired Bakersfield attorney.

She worked on the Yee team Friday and part of Monday monitoring the process.  What Gamez didn't know was that Meyer is a Perez supporter.  Said Gamez, "She may well have voted for John Perez, but her willingness to participate in the process had to do with her being an outstanding Democrat and wanting to guarantee that all the votes got counted."

Meyer said she didn't realize she had been assigned to the Yee team until she was involved in the counting on Monday. She said her vote for Perez did not influence her efforts to accurately monitor the recount. Also, she said Betty Yee called personally to thank her for her service.

On Monday Gamez replaced Meyer with Yee supporters.  You can hear Meyer's story by clicking on the link near the top of this page.
An earlier version of the story misstated when Mayer realized she was working on the Yee team. She said she realized it on Monday. KPCC regrets the error.