Yee, Perez awaitCA controller race recount

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday July 9, 2014
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Betty Yee marches in San Francisco's Pride parade last<br>month. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Betty Yee marches in San Francisco's Pride parade last
month. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The outcome of the state controller's primary race remains uncertain a month after voters went to the polls in June due to a gay candidate's request for a recount.

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, gay Assemblyman John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced he wanted a recount of votes cast in 15 of California's counties, including San Mateo and Napa in the Bay Area.

According to the most recent vote totals, posted July 1, Perez was in third place with 877,714 votes. That was 481 votes behind the second place finisher Betty Yee, a Democrat who represents the Bay Area and northern California on the state Board of Equalization.

Under California's open primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November. Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin came in first with a total vote count that now stands at 1,001,473.

Perez, the first out LGBT person elected to the powerful Assembly speaker post, which he resigned from in May, is holding out hope that he will advance to the fall election and be the first out candidate to win a statewide seat in California.

"Never in California history has the vote difference between two candidates for statewide office been so narrow, 481 votes or 1/100th of one percent, out of more than four million ballots cast," stated Perez in a July 6 email announcing his decision to seek a recounting of votes. "It is therefore of the utmost importance that an additional, carefully conducted review of the ballots be undertaken to ensure that every vote is counted, as intended."

County elections officials had until early July to submit their final tallies to the Secretary of State's office, which is required to certify the final election results Friday, July 11.

In a July 1 press statement, as well as in an email sent to her supporters that day, Yee proclaimed herself the second-place finisher of the primary and called on Democrats to unite behind her candidacy to ensure the statewide position does not fall into GOP hands.

"I want to thank the voters of California for their trust and support. I look forward to bringing my extensive finance experience into the office of controller," Yee stated. "I want to congratulate Assembly Speaker Emeritus Perez for his strong and positive campaign and for his leadership in restoring fiscal stability to California. With the campaign now behind us, I call upon all Democrats to unite in the effort to hold this vital position as California's chief financial officer."

The recount process has thrown elections officials around the state into a sense of confusion about the process and who will pay for it.

Perez, who asked that ballots in Kern and Imperial counties be manually reviewed first, is required to pay the cost of the recount for each day it takes place. He also wants elections officials to review all ballots in the targeted counties that were not counted.

It remains to be seen if he can overcome Yee's lead. And if he does, it is likely the matter could land before the state courts before a final second-place finisher is determined.