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Nearly 1,000 more ballots to be counted Tuesday

Posted: April 14, 2014 6:56 p.m.
Updated: April 14, 2014 6:56 p.m.

Nearly 1,000 more ballots for the Santa Clarita City Council election held last Tuesday will be counted this Tuesday — and they are expected to determine the council’s newest member.

City officials said 981 more ballots were deemed qualified and will be counted during an open session at Santa Clarita City Council Chambers beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The public is invited to attend to observe.

With 13 candidates running for three seats on the City Council, the two incumbents won by about 1,000 votes each but the third seat, vacated by Councilman Frank Ferry, remains undecided a week after the election.

Challengers Dante Acosta and Alan Ferdman are just 46 votes apart, with Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Duane R. Harte and Maria Gutzeit trailing not far behind.

The 981 uncounted ballots, which could represent as many as 2,943 votes, will decide the third-place winner. Mathematically, any of the five challengers bunched behind incumbents Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean could win.

City officials initially estimated 950 ballots were uncounted as of Tuesday night’s election. But that number was just an estimate and did not take into account vote-by-mail ballots received through the mail Tuesday or dropped off at City Hall on Election Day, as well as provisional ballots cast at precincts, they said.

It also didn’t include 21 ballots found inside the Precinct 84 ballot box by City Clerk staff who were preparing the box to be sent back to its source.

Ballots that weren’t verified by city staff before Election Day were sent to the county for signature verification and to ensure voters actually live in the city.

Of the 71 eliminated:
- 51 had signatures that could not be verified;
- 13 were cast by people who did not live within the city;
- 7 did not have any signatures.

Precincts that added uncounted ballots to the tally were located throughout the city and contributed as few as 11 more ballots and as many as 54.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, city officials will choose two precincts at random and conduct a count by hand of each precinct as a way to ensure accuracy of the count, city spokeswoman Gail Morgan said. That hand count will be conducted in the City Hall Century Room and is also open to the public for observation.




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