District 5 City Council Race Still Pending, Incumbent Holds Lead

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Correction Appended

While many thought the race would be over by Nov. 4, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has yet to declare a winner in the District 5 Berkeley City Council race.

Currently, four-year incumbent Laurie Capitelli is leading challenger Sophie Hahn by 412 votes-53 percent to 46 percent. But approximately 1,300 provisional and mail-in ballots have yet to be counted and could potentially sway the election result, said Dave Macdonald, the county's registrar.

Macdonald said he hoped results would be final by Thanksgiving. They must be reported by Dec. 2.

"It takes 28 days, and I know that's hard for people to understand, but if you see the volume we have to do and the amount of labor it involves, they'd be able to understand," he said.

For now, both candidates said they would wait to concede until the race was officially called.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can for them to post the results," Hahn said. "But from what I can tell (the registrar) is very overwhelmed."

But Capitelli said he was confident the results would not drastically change as the remaining few ballots are counted.

"We'll have to wait until the end of the day to make sure," he said. "It would be unusual for somebody to pick up that many votes with so few votes left to count. It seems unlikely."

Macdonald said it was not unusual for there to be a delay in counting both provisional and mail-in ballots.

Provisional ballots are used when a voter's eligibility to vote is questioned at the polls. Counting them involves a time-consuming process wherein county officials must verify the identify of every person who casts a ballot.

Both Hahn and Capitelli said they thought the race was close because they both ran positive campaigns.

Capitelli said the results showed voters supported his ideas.

"It was a competitive race and I am pleased that I am ahead right now," he said. "I think I focused exclusively on what I feel I've accomplished and what I hope to accomplish in the next four years."

Hahn said she would continue to hope until the election is officially called.

"I'm going to wait until their last vote is counted-because it is close," she said.


Correction: Friday, November 14, 2008
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that provisional ballots are only counted when elections are close. In fact, provisional ballots are always counted once the voter's identity has been verified. The Daily Californian regrets the error.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Katie Meyer at [email protected]

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