• Mary Salas’s manager: ‘Make sure that every vote is counted’ Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Look at it as a roll of the dice.

    Mary Salas‘s decision to seek a recount in the state Senate District 40 Democratic primary is rooted in a desire to ensure every vote counts — and the 50-50 chance that a recount will find a mistake that could change the results. As it stands, Salas trails Juan Vargas, a favorite of corporate interests, by a handful of votes. The state Secretary of State website’s election results page says the margin is 12, though Salas campaign manager Barry Klein said this morning they were told the margin is 22 votes.

    Mary Salas

    Mary Salas

    “With elections, you never quite know what’s going to happen at the end of the day,” Klein said. “With such a small margin, you can’t help but go forward and make sure that every vote is counted correctly. Even the smallest mistake, even though the boards of elections are doing a fantastic job, can sway something.”

    It’s a long shot, says Alex Vassar, who helps run the Join California political archive when he’s not serving as floor manager for the Senate Republican Policy Office.

    “Because of how elections results are recorded makes it very difficult to get a good count of how often recounts impact the outcome. Because the Secretary of State only publishes the final vote count (in the Statement of Vote, after the certification of the vote), the only time that the ‘official record’ shows recounts resulting in a changed outcome is when a seat is successfully contested. The only successful contest of an election in recent history was the Fondse/Johnston recount in 1980, which stands out because it was just that rare.”

    In that 1980 Assembly race, Republican Adrian Frondse was declared the winner and sworn in, but Democrat Patrick Johnston was later declared the winner in a recount, unseating Frondse. It’s the the only time in memory that happened. But there have been a few other close shaves, according to this list Vassar sent along:

    * 2008 General – SD 19 – A 1% recount was required because of how close the lead that Tony Strickland held over Hanna Beth Jackson. Vote lead did not change.

    * 2006 General – SD 34 – A recount was considered, but ultimately decided against because Lou Correa had a 1,302 vote lead over Lynn Daucher.

    * 2006 Primary – SD 30 – Rudy Bermudez requested a recount after Ron Calderon ended ahead in the initial vote count. Vote lead did not change.

    * 2006 Special – SD 35 – Diane Harkey requested a recount of Tom Harman‘s narrow lead, which took two weeks. Vote lead did not change.

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  • Details on the vote recount in the California Senate District 40 Democratic primary
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