The Daily Californian Online

Alameda Awaits Results of Uncounted Votes

By Nina Brown
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Category: News > City > City Council

Around 122,000 absentee and provisional ballots from last Tuesday's election have yet to be counted throughout the county, though the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has 21 more days to certify the results of its first ever election using a ranked-choice voting system.

The outstanding ballots may help in deciding some of the county's closest races, including the Oakland mayoral race where candidates Jean Quan and Don Perata stand at 51.09 percent and 48.91 percent, respectively, as of Nov. 5, according to unofficial results on the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' website.

Voters may rank up to three choices in each race under the new system, thereby eliminating the need for a primary election and cutting down costs for the three cities - Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro - that just adopted the system, according the county's Deputy Registrar of Voters Cynthia Cornejo.

While the system has been applied to all election results thus far, the registrar is not releasing any more ranked-choice voting results until the election is certified, said Leshaun Yopack, an election technician in candidate services at the registrar's office.

Updated results will reflect only first-choice votes until all the ballots have been counted, at which point second and third choices will also be taken into consideration, according to a statement from Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald. Cornejo said after all of the outstanding ballots have been counted, an algorithm is run to tally candidates' total votes.

While there have been mixed reviews of the new system, Quan's campaign coordinator Sue Piper said she believed it worked well.

"It did what it was supposed to do - give candidates an opportunity to be before all voters so they didn't get screened out in the primary, and it saved the city money," she said.

George Beier, a former candidate for Berkeley City Council who ran against District 7 incumbent Kriss Worthington and made it through two rounds of ranked-choice elimination, said the system was "a mixed bag."

"In races like ours, with only three people in the race, I think it makes sense," he said.

But Beier added that in large elections, like the mayoral race in Oakland, voters who only selected candidates that were immediately dropped in the first rounds of ranked-choice voting would not have any input in the final results.

"Let's say you vote for a person who comes in 10th, the person who comes in eighth, and the person who comes in sixth - you don't have a say in the runoff between the top two," he said. "You're basically disenfranchised."

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