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Thousands of ballots uncounted in Yuba, Sutter
Remember all those seemingly decisive results from local races on Tuesday night? Take a deep breath, because there is a lot more counting to do.
Between provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots received on Election Day, Yuba and Sutter counties combined probably have more than 8,000 voters who haven't been counted yet, according to preliminary estimates by both counties' clerk-recorders.
As a result, several fairly close races could still flip, or simply see strengthening of the early result.
In Yuba County, Measure T, a countywide initiative by Supervisor Hal Stocker, was trailing by 500 votes out of 14,286 cast at polling places. But it could still tip either way, with about 4,000 outstanding ballots to be tabulated.
Of those, about 700 are provisionals, meaning someone filled out a ballot when elections officials could not determine if the person was eligible to do so, said Clerk-Recorder Terry Hansen.
"A fair number of those are probably going to be rejected," she said.
The rest are vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polling places, and because in many cases the person who dropped them off may have lived elsewhere, they're likely from across the county, she said.
Tib Belza, a chairman for the opposition group to Measure T, said he was hopeful the trends in voting would hold.
"We knew it would be a close race, and his was an easier message to tell," Belza said of Stocker's initiative, which would require a public vote whenever a development would mean a change to land designated as agriculture or open space. "We had a lot of longtime county residents with a lot invested in the county supporting us."
Stocker, though, said he believed voters missed an opportunity.
"I don't think most people voted on an issue. They voted based on misstatements, you could call them lies, maybe, they were told," he said. "They were fed a mishmash of junk that had nothing to do with the issue."
Belza, a real estate agent and Yuba County Water Agency board member, said voters were convinced by arguments about how the measure's language could be interpreted in unintended ways.
The idea of protecting county ag land has value, he said, but any measure to do so should come as a result of a full discussion rather than one person's idea.
"It needs to come from an organic, grass-roots movement," Belza said. Stocker said he would welcome a discussion with farmers on the idea, but believed most supported the concept at heart.
"The only farmers who really would've been affected by this are the ones who were planning to sell their land," he said.
In addition to Measure T, the three-member Marysville City Council race had a difference of less than 150 votes between second-place finisher and incumbent Jim Kitchen and the third-place candidate, Chris Pedigo. More than 3,000 votes have been tallied in that race.
It's less clear whether outstanding ballots might change any races in Sutter County, which had no close countywide contests.
Clerk-Recorder Donna Johnston said the county had 3,500 vote-by-mail ballots either dropped off at the elections office or received by mail Tuesday, and hundreds, perhaps thousands more from polling sites.
"We have gobs of trays and gobs of bags here," she said. "And we haven't even opened up the boxes from the polls yet."
She said the next updated results won't probably be posted until Friday afternoon. Hansen said updated Yuba County numbers won't come until Tuesday. The official certification of the vote is due by Dec. 4.