Weeks after conceding defeat in the June 5 primary, supporters of an initiative to increase the tobacco tax to fund cancer research have requested a recount in parts of Los Angeles County.
Proposition 29 is losing 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent a margin of just 29,565 votes out of more than 5 million cast statewide according to unofficial results posted by the secretary of state's office. Proponents of the measure conceded June 22, saying the gap remained too large to overcome as the final ballots were counted.
But a recount was requested in some Los Angeles County precincts Monday, the deadline for submitting such a request, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan confirmed Thursday. Logan said 191 precincts were selected for a recount by supporters.
The request was filed by John Maa, according to the secretary of state's office. A doctor by that name, who is a member of the American Heart Association's Western States Affiliate, was featured in news releases and a Yes on 29 advertisement. The filer's attorney, Bradley W. Hertz of the San Francisco-based Sutton Law Firm, was not immediately available for comment.
The formal Proposition 29 campaign denied involvement in the recount. Spokesman Tim Douglas wrote in an email that "no one with any official connection to the campaign made such a request."
Logan said his department will begin the recount process next Monday, tallying the ballots electronically before starting a manual count at midweek. He said he expects the recount, which could take more than a week, to cost about $5,700 a day. The campaign requesting the recount must cover that amount in daily deposits, though taxpayers pick up the tab if the process changes the outcome of the election.
The selected precincts accounted for about 48,000 of the roughly 900,000 votes cast for and against the measure in the county. The campaign can add more precincts or pull the plug on the process at any time, Logan said.
Proposition 29 would increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack to pay for cancer research and smoking cessation programs. It was sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.
The opposition campaign, fueled with tens of millions of dollars from tobacco companies, argued that the revenue could be put to better use and that the oversight panel created by the measure would lack accountability and create more bureaucracy.