Mendocino County’s election results remain in limbo, with a majority of the ballots cast yet to be tallied.
More than 16,500 ballots have yet to be processed, according to Mendocino County Assessor Clerk-Recorder Sue Ranochak. A total of 11,320 ballots had been processed as of last Wednesday morning.
It’s rare for election results to change following election night, even with such large numbers of outstanding ballots, but “anything can happen,” she said.
“I don’t predict which races could flip,” she added.
Joe Wildman, a Mendocino County political consultant, said the race most subject to change when all the ballots are counted is the countywide race for Mendocino County Superior Court judge. In preliminary results, Ukiah-based attorney Keith Faulder, with 5,287 votes, was leading coast attorney Patrick Pekin, who garnered 4,789.
Wildman noted that a majority of the ballots left to be processed are in largely coastal districts, where Pekin is better known and may have a stronghold. There are 4,456 votes to be processed in the 4th District, which includes Fort Bragg, and 4,160 votes left in the 5th District, which stretches from the coast to the edges of Ukiah and farther southeast to the Lake County border. There are 2,800 votes left to be processed in the 1st District, which includes northeastern Mendocino County, and 2,615 in the 2nd District, comprised of the city of Ukiah. The number outstanding in the 3rd District is 2,494.
“I could easily see the Pekin and Faulder race getting much tighter or turning around,” Wildman said.
He doubts that the final vote count could change the outcome of Measure V, a measure that takes aim at the controversial timberland management practice of killing trees, then leaving them standing in forests. The measure has a 2,116 vote lead and it was launched from the 5th District, where many residents live in forested areas and fear potential fire hazards from the dead trees.
If anything, that favors “an even bigger win,” Wildman said.
Measure U, a Fort Bragg measure that would ban social services-based businesses in the downtown district, actually has the narrowest difference between yes and no votes in the preliminary vote count. The measure on election night was losing by just 56 votes. But Wildman doesn’t think that outcome will change when the other 1,582 city votes are processed.
Few Fort Bragg voters actually live in the historic district and they won’t want social services centers placed near their own homes instead, he said.
“Nobody wants it in their neighborhood,” Wildman said.
In Lake County, there also are numerous outstanding votes, 7,919, compared with 9,049 already counted, according to the elections office.
The closest races in Lake County include two for county supervisor, each of which has two candidates headed for November election runoffs.
In the 1st District, there was just a 50-vote difference between the second and third place vote getters, Jose “Moke” Simon and Voris Brumfield, and 1,813 outstanding ballots left to be processed. The top vote getter in that race, Monica Rosenthal, had only a 7 vote lead in the preliminary count.
In the 4th District, there’s a 131 vote difference between the second and third place winners, Martin Scheel and Ted Mandrones, and 1,912 ballots left to be processed. Tina Scott was in first place, with a 192 vote lead.