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Strickland Leads by 540

Republican state senate hopeful Tony Strickland regained the lead over Democrat Hannah Beth Jackson Monday afternoon, as newly counted ballots from Ventura County gave him a 540 vote lead in the 19th district.

The new running total marked the third lead change between the two rivals since Election Day, when Jackson finished 103 votes ahead.

Jackson's best hope of eking out a win now appears to rest with about 4,000 absentee votes still to be counted in Santa Barbara County, where officials in the voter registrar's office also have to contend with 6,000 provisional ballots, which were held out on Election Day because of questions about the registration of those who cast them.

Thousands of voters registered on or around the deadline for doing so, which means that their names might not have appeared on voter lists given to precinct workers on Election Day.

Campaign sources say there are about 55,000 vote-by-mail absentee ballots still to be counted in Ventura County, in addition to about 15,000 provisional ballots. A small part of the district also falls in Los Angeles County, where several thousand more vote-by-mail ballots remain to be counted.

The deadline for the election to be certified by the Secretary of State is December 2.

The estimable Chuck Schultz of the Santa Maria Times has a good piece here that details the complexities of the ongoing tally, including the requirement for a manual recount because of the eyelash closeness of the race. Tip o' the hat to Blogabarbara for the link.

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