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Still Counting, Elections Officials Discount One Cannabis Initiative

Sonora, CA — Mother Lode elections offices have maybe weeks before they can certify results, leaving close race contenders waiting to exhale. One of two Calaveras cannabis measures is also now reported out of the November running.

Tuolumne County Clerk and Auditor-Controller Debi Bautista points out election officials have 30 days to complete their tasks, estimating that it may take two to three weeks before she issues the final report.

As of Tuesday night, Bautista states 10,500 vote-by-mail ballots received by noontime and all the polling returns were counted by about 10:30 p.m. As reported here, while incumbents running in the three district races look to have won, one of the three open seats on the Sonora City Council is still in tight contention between incumbent Bill Canning and former council member Matt Hawkins.

‘Postmarked [Election Day] Plus 3’

Wednesday, Bautista says her office is first focusing on about 1,800 vote-by-mail ballots collected Tuesday at polling places as well as those delivered after noon by the voters, themselves and by mail today. Then, she adds, “We have the new source of ballots, and those are the ones with the postmark…as long as [a ballot] was postmarked June 7th or prior, and we receive it by 5 o’clock on Friday, we will count those ballots.”

Normally, maybe 20 to 30 ballots might arrive on the day following an election; then just a few more after that, sometimes weeks later. With the new law, however, Bautista says it is hard to know whether 50 or 500 procrastinating vote-by-mail voters held off until Tuesday to mail in their preferences.

Too, Bautista states, about 800 provisional ballots still awaiting staff attention will not be able to be processed until all the other ballots are resolved, to ensure that they are not doubles.

Still Counting In Calaveras

Calaveras County elections official, Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Turner, shares, “We had a precinct that came in kind of slowly last night so we did not final until after 11:30. Everything went fairly smoothly…anything that came in by 8 p.m. was counted in [Tuesday’s] results.” Turner estimates the response represents about a 48 percent voter turnout, which she calls typical. “We still have about 2,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots that came in from the polling places,” she reports, which would increase the turnout total to 60 percent.

“By end of day, Friday, we will be able to say ‘these are our results’ with all our vote-by-mails…then, Monday we will be able to begin looking at the provisional ballots and get an updated count,” Turner projects. “The goal would be, by the following Tuesday, to have new results with all the provisional [ballots] and [final] vote-by-mails.”

The only close race this time around, which is for District 1 Supervisor, remains a nail biter — in the single digits — between incumbent Cliff Edsen and former supervisor Gary Tofanelli. “I think a lot of people will be looking at the results coming in to see what happens with that race,” turner admits with a rueful laugh. “I don’t foresee there being a big change, so I think the end result is…that it is nearly impossible for them to not end up [in a run-off] on the November ballot.”

Update On Cannabis, Kearney Initiatives 

In other elections office-related news,  Turner reports that her staff is still verifying signatures on one of two submitted initiative petitions “The one titled ‘Regulation of Cannabis’…we are still looking at getting a full signature count and then verifying the signatures. We have until July 12 to certify whether or not it is a sufficient petition…with adequate signatures to allow it to go on to the November ballot.”

However, she adds, “The other…the ‘Ban For Cannabis’ [initiative] was decided to have insufficient signatures, because the full initiative text was not included…when it was submitted to my office — it is basically a formatting error.” This means the proposal now has zero chance of making the November ballot.

Filed earlier this spring by a contingent of disgruntled Valley Springs residents, a recall petition of District 5 Supervisor Steve Kearney, now circulating in the area, has a deadline of 60 days. Turner says it must be turned in by June 27 or it will expire.