Campaign 2012: Smith leads; final results still up in air
Although the pendulum of votes has swung toward City Council candidate Willie Smith, the outcome for the second seat on the council is still unknown and too close to call.
At 4:52 p.m. Wednesday the Tehama County Elections Department posted the latest in the vote count which leaves retired police Chief Tony Cardenas in the lead of the City Council race with 927 votes, Smith with 743 votes and coming a very close third is incumbent John Leach carrying 725 votes.
This is a switch for Smith and Leach from the Nov. 7 posted count of Leach leading with 595 votes and Smith 20 votes behind.
But the latest vote count is not final. The elections department is whittling away at more than 6,000 ballots that had to be counted and verified by hand following the Nov. 6 election, said Jennifer Vise, county assistant registrar.
"We expect to post a final unofficial count next week sometime," Vise said.
That leaves Smith and Leach squirming with anticipation.
"The wait is killing me," Smith said. "It's good to be ahead, but one never knows when it is so close."
Both Leach and Smith attended Tuesday's meeting — Leach in his council seat and Smith in the audience.
Following the meeting, the two shared a few words of candidate camaraderie and offerings of good luck.
"This is a very close race," Leach said on Friday. "I talked to the county elections department this morning and they told me the unofficial final count may be posted as early as Monday. I'll just have to wait and see the results are then. It's a waiting game." The status of other election candidates remains the same, such as incumbent Marty Mathisen and candidate Lizett Arriaga holding the two seats open on the Corning Union Elementary School District board of trustees.
Percentage numbers for state Senate 4th District candidate Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, had dropped from 50.4 percent to 50 percent as of early Thursday.
If Nielsen doesn't hold a 50.1 percent lead on the official final count, a January runoff with Democrat Mickey Harrington will be held to determine the outcome.
Former Sen. Doug LaMalfa holds his lead for the 1st Congressional District seat, with 58 percent of the votes against Jim Reed, D-Fall River Mills, who has 42 percent.
It appears Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, will continue as an assemblyman, this time in the newly drawn 3rd District. He has 56 percent of votes against Corning Democrat Charles Rouse, who has earned 44 percent.
In processing vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at poll locations, election officials must confirm each voter's registration status, verify each voter's signature, and ensure each person did not vote elsewhere.
Other ballots that are processed after Election Day include provisional ballots, and ballots that are damaged or cannot be machine-read and must be remade by elections officials.
Provisional ballots range from voters who had registered as mail-in, but showed up at the polls to vote, those who voted in one precinct but were not on that specifc registration ledger, or sometimes people who claim they registered, but are not showing up as such.
Their ballots are set aside to verify information and to make sure they did not vote twice.
County elections officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing ballots and until Dec. 7 to report their certified election results to the California Secretary of State.