Former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez filed paperwork Sunday requesting a recount in 15 California counties in a bid to advance to the November runoff for state controller after an extremely close finish in the June 3 election.
Pérez, D-Los Angeles, trails Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, also a Democrat, by just 481 votes for second place - just one-hundredth of a percent of the more than 4 million votes cast in the race. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, finished first in June 3 balloting.
Pérez topped Yee in all of the counties where he is requesting the recount, from mammoth Los Angeles County to Lake County, where only about 14,000 votes were cast in the controller's race.
"Today, I am filing a request for a recount in the Controller's race," Pérez said in a statement. "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. 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.
"Throughout my career, I have made voter registration and the defense of voting rights a core part of my work. As the former Chair of the California Voting Modernization Board, I know first hand how difficult it is to have an error-free counting of the votes. Like all who have waited since Election Day, I seek a final determination as quickly as possible," he said.
Pérez's filing, a day before Monday's recount filing deadline, is the largest recount request in California's modern era. There were a pair of ballot proposition recount requests after the November 2012 election, but they involved far fewer counties.
In a statement, Yee accused Pérez of trying to pry additional votes only from those places where he did well.
"My opponent in the June primary has stated that he is calling for a recount because he 'wants to ensure that every vote is counted,' Yee said. "But if he really wants to make sure every vote counts he should be counting every vote.
"Cherry-picking only the 15 counties that he won, and sorting the precincts within the counties to reflect his strongest areas indicates that he has no interest in a fair and impartial recount."
Yee or a supporter has 24 hours to request a recount in counties where she did well, which were concentrated in Northern California. Experts say there is no guaranteed recount strategy, with one strategist calling it a "crap-shoot" that could end up costing a lot of money without changing the outcome significantly.
In addition, a lengthy recount could complicate preparations for the Nov. 4 election. Ballots are scheduled to go out to overseas voters in September.