With more than 378,000 ballots left to count countywide, and just a few hundred votes separating candidates in two key Anaheim City Council races, voters may have to wait until the end of November to find out who their new city council representatives will be.
The results in the District 1 and District 3 races could determine whether or not the Anaheim City Council will continue to be run by a majority sympathetic to the city’s major business interests, or by a new majority led by Mayor Tom Tait that has pledged to oppose tax subsidies for big businesses.
In District 1, Tait-backed candidate Denise Barnes ended election night 108 votes ahead of the second highest vote-getter, Steve Chavez Lodge, who is heavily backed by Disney and other resort district businesses.
Incumbent councilman Jordan Brandman, who is vying to keep his District 3 seat, also ended the night slightly ahead with 268 votes more than Jose Moreno, a former school district board member who is also backed by Tait.
Since Election Day, the county Registrar of Voters has counted an additional 35,718 ballots and Barnes’ and Brandman’s leads have widened slightly – with Barnes gaining 25 votes and Brandman another 44 votes. Barnes’ lead is now 133 votes and Brandman’s is 312.
But the process is likely to drag out until the end of the month if not longer, said Registrar Neal Kelley.
“Keep in mind that we processed 420,000 ballots for 10 days prior to Election Day and then 408,000 were dropped on our door on [Election Day],” Kelley said.
Many of those ballots — an estimated 108,000 — were provisional ballots, which are given at polling places to voters whose eligibility to vote is unclear or to voters who received a ballot by mail but choose to show up at the polls instead.
Provisional ballots take three times longer to process as the registration of those voters must be individually verified, Kelley said.
Also, the outstanding ballots are not sorted by jurisdiction, so Kelley has no idea how many are from Anaheim or when the Anaheim votes will be counted.
State law gives the Registrar 30 days to process all ballots received after Election Day. Kelley estimates they will take at least 25 days to process the ballots.
So far, with councilwoman Lucille Kring handily re-elected and Brandman holding his lead, it appears that the city’s business interests will hold onto their majority when the newly elected council members are sworn in on December 13.
Even if Barnes wins in District 1, that would only give Tait three votes on the seven-member council.
“I feel privileged that thus far voters want to continue the progress that we’ve been making in Anaheim,” said Brandman.
At a party at Las Palomas restaurant on election night, Moreno told his supporters that it could be at least a week before all the votes are counted.
Moreno said that of the 19,000 registered voters in District 3, his campaign projected that 11,000 to 12,000 voters would turn out. Only 8,061 votes have been counted as of Monday morning. In District 1, 8,214 votes have been counted.
The Registrar will continue updating its website with new vote tallies each weekday at 5:00 p.m. until all votes are counted. You can follow the results on their website.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.