Vote counting machines at City Hall on election night, November 3, 2009.

Paul Wellman

Vote counting machines at City Hall on election night, November 3, 2009.

Recount Called for City Election

Voting Machine Malfunctioned

Santa Barbara City election officials will be conducting a complete recount of all ballots cast in last week’s election, because one of the vote-counting machines failed to adequately count all the votes cast on the “B” side of the ballot.

The recount will not affect the results of the mayoral race at all, nor Measures B and C. But it could affect the final outcomes of the city council races as well as Measures D and E.

Given the spread of votes, city officials expressed confidence that none of the council winners would have their victories overturned. It might change, however, which candidate came in third or fourth. Currently Frank Hotchkiss holds third place, with a 15-vote advantage over Michael Self. (Both Self and Hotchkiss will be seated in any case.)

The problem came to light late Tuesday afternoon, November 10, when city election workers were conducting a manual recount of roughly 1,000 ballots to ensure that the results matched those rendered by the voting machines. One machine in particular failed to register all the votes cast on the ballots’ B sides if the marks made were not sufficiently dark. That machine had no difficulty reading similarly light marks made on the front side of the ballots.

The discrepancy in ballots counted is in the range of five percent to 15 percent. After counting 800 ballots by hand, city election officials concluded there was a problem. The recount will be conducted at 10 a.m., Thursday, November 12, in the City Council chambers. All candidates and members of the public are welcome to attend and observe. The recount results should be final within five hours.

Based on election night returns, Helene Schneider won the mayoral contest, and Grant House, Harwood “Bendy” White, Frank Hotchkiss, and Michael Self won for council. Measure B, which would have lowered building-height limits, lost, and the other ballot measures, D, E, and F all won.

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