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City Clerk Orders Full Recount of Santa Barbara Election

A voting-machine malfunction affected results for the City Council race and Measures D and E

Santa Barbara City Clerk Services Manager Cyndi Rodriguez, after conducting a manual audit of the city’s election results, has determined that a vote-counting machine, in some cases, did not properly read a portion of ballots cast. As a result, she has decided to do a complete recount.

“We don’t anticipate that the recount will affect the overall results of the election other than, perhaps, the order for the third and fourth place on the race for City Council,” said Marcelo López, administrative services director.

It appears that the voting machine used by the contracted ballot counters lacked the sensitivity to read some of the lighter-shaded marks for votes cast for City Council candidates and Measures D and E.

The reader problem does not affect the race for mayor and/or Measures B and C. In fact, the manual tally results for mayor and Measures B and C matched the machine-generated results. The nearly 50 percent voter turnout also is not affected.

“As part of the process, the elections official is required to verify the accuracy of the election by manually tallying approximately 1 percent of the votes cast,” Lopez said. “During the accuracy verification process, the city clerk services manager discovered that in some cases the machine-generated results did not match the manual tally.”

The elections process has many checks and balances, including statistical random sampling of ballots.

“Our checks and balance process worked,” Rodriguez said. ‘We identified the problem, and by recounting the ballots we will be able to assure voters that the count is accurate.”

The recount will occur at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Council Chambers at Santa Barbara City Hall, 735 Anacapa St. The recount is open to the public.

All candidates, and ballot measure proponents and opponents have or will be informed of the recount. A public notice of the recount is posted at City Hall.

The recount must match the manual tally of the verified precinct selected at random. The results will be posted on the city’s election Web site.

The projected date for the City Council to certify the election results is Nov. 24.

— Marcelo López is an administrative services director for the city of Santa Barbara.

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