70 votes separate challenger, incumbent in City Council race

CARLSBAD — The election is not quite over.

There are 396,000 ballots still outstanding and in Carlsbad, the race for the second seat on the City Council remains up in the air.

As of Wednesday, challenger Cori Schumacher led incumbent Lorraine Wood by 70 votes. Schumacher (no relation to current council member Michael Schumacher), leads 13,830 to 13,760.

Incumbent Keith Blackburn was re-elected, gathering 24.05 percent of the vote, which is nearly four points higher than Schumacher and Wood.

While there are a number of ballots left to be counted, it appears a fraction of those will affect the Carlsbad race.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters (ROV) has 30 days to certify the results after the election.

Michael Vu of the San Diego County ROV said he expects the 281,000 outstanding mail-in ballots to be entered into the count by next week. As for the provisional ballots, which total 115,000, it will take more time.

He said there are numerous obstacles with provisional ballots, which are used when a voter does not vote in their precinct.

“By Tuesday of next week, we should have most of the vote by mail ballots in to the count,” Vu explained. “Provisional ballots always take a lot longer.”

As for the provisional ballots, he said in some cases a voter was not found on the listing. Therefore, the county must verify if the individual is registered, their name, address and review the ballot to make sure a voter did not vote for items that were not allowed.

For example, if a voter in Carlsbad votes in Encinitas, he or she cannot vote for Encinitas city positions and measures.

There are three million registered voters in the county.

“The easiest example is a college student who has never registered in San Diego County, but wants to vote,” Vu said. “We are trying to hunt to determine if they are registered to vote.”

Vu said the ROV then must redact those contests from the individual’s ballot before it is counted.

Yet another issue is those who received a vote by mail ballot, but showed up at a polling location. If they can’t “surrender” their mail ballot, they vote provisionally, which then the ROV reviews to determine if both ballots were submitted.

If so, the provisional ballot is removed and the mail ballot is counted.

“We then have to process all the mail ballots … so we have an accounting of everyone who has returned their mail ballot to determine whether or not we can count that provisional ballot that was cast by a person who also received a mail ballot,” Vu explained.

There are several close races in North County in addition to the Carlsbad City Council. Vu noted the 49th Congressional race between incumbent Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat challenger Doug Applegate.

Vu said those ballots, which the outstanding number is unknown, will play into the Carlsbad race.

As for a recount, there is no state law that would automatically trigger one, he added. Any voter can request a recount, but the cost can be substantial, although Vu said a down payment must be secured before a recount begins.

He did not have a total cost for a recount.

Vu said he has never been requested to do a full recount, as those who do ask for one, request specific precincts.

According to a 2015 story in the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law where the state would cover the cost for recounts, although the law does not take effect until 2018. The governor would also have to call for the recount, according to the report.

Back in Carlsbad, Measure O safely passed gathering a whopping 71.74 percent of the vote. The measure will allow the City Council to rebuild Fire Station No. 2 with funds already allocated for the project.

Cost estimates range between $7 million and $10.5 million for the dilapidated station. The station is located at the intersection of El Camino Real and Arenal Road.


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