Sacramento County elections officials will wait until Monday afternoon to issue another ballot count, delaying an outcome in the closely watched congressional race in which Republican Doug Ose leads Democratic Rep. Ami Bera by more than 2,000 votes.
The 7th Congressional District, a swing seat that stretches across many Sacramento suburbs, is one of five California contests where a winner has yet to emerge. Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney of Stockton, Julia Brownley of Thousand Oaks and Scott Peters of San Diego have opened up leads over their GOP challengers, while Jim Costa of Fresno is closing in on Republican Johnny Tacherra.
Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine said she plans to issue her next countywide update of counted votes after 4 p.m. Monday. She said officials opted to delay a count until next week because the total number would have been too low to justify a release.
LaVine said an unusually high number of ballots were challenged Thursday. Elections officials, campaigns and members of the public are scrutinizing ballot signatures to see if they match ones on file with the registrar. The completed ballots then go through a second level of verification.
LaVine said most of the 3,000 challenged ballots – up from the typical 30 a day – had their signatures verified by her and a team of higher-level officials Friday. While much of the focus has been on the Ose-Bera race, LaVine said she doesn’t know how many ballots were disputed by the campaigns or their supporters.
The registrar said she’s using a new process that allows challenged ballots to be reviewed on the spot. “Today was a much smoother day,” she said.
As of the last count Thursday, Ose led Bera by 2,183 votes, with 70,000 mail and untold provisional ballots from across the county left to be counted. Both campaigns accused the other of gumming up the works.
A statement issued by the Bera campaign quoted attorney Chris Sautter, who said, “We have every expectation and complete faith that the registrar’s office will count every single legal vote.”
Ose’s campaign shortly after released an identical statement, this time attributing it to “Team Ose.”
It concluded: “Our efforts will be exclusively focused on ensuring every single legal vote in California’s 7th Congressional District is counted.”