Measure B1 Backers to Pay for Partial Recount

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The backers of Measure B1, the countywide tax measure that would have raised $7.8 billion for transportation and smart-growth projects, have decided to pay for a partial recount of ballots cast in the November 6 election. Measure B1 fell just 721 votes short of passing, garnering 66.53 percent of the vote, 0.14 percent shy of the 66.67 percent it needed to win. If the partial recount produces more votes for Measure B1, then supporters plan to pay for a full recount of all the 600,000 ballots cast in the election countywide.

Art Dao, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, said in an interview today that the partial recount would focus on votes cast in Berkeley and Oakland, where Measure B1 received huge amounts of support. Dao noted that Measure B1 received more than 80 percent of the vote in Berkeley alone.

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Backers of Measure B1 are particularly concerned because there were large numbers of so-called “undervotes” in Berkeley and Oakland in the election. Undervotes occur when a voter casts a ballot, but for whatever reason, his or her vote on a specific issue was not tallied. Undervotes can happen when a voter decides not to cast a vote on a specific contest — such as for city council or a ballot measure — or when the voter didn’t fully mark his or her ballot and the optical scanners didn’t register the vote.

Dao said that there were about 8,000 undervotes in Berkeley on Measure B1 and 18,000 undervotes in Oakland. Countywide, there were about 75,000 undervotes on Measure B1. In all, there were 602,479 total ballots cast in the county, but only 527,403 votes registered for or against Measure B1.

If the partial recount in Berkeley and Oakland turns up a significant number of votes that were cast for Measure B1 but not were tallied by the optical scanners, then Dao said the transportation commission would foot the bill for a total countywide recount. The partial recount, he said, will cost $30,000 to $40,000. “We decided to spend the funds to really make sure,” he said of the election results.

According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, Measure B1 received 350,899 “yes” votes compared to 176,504 “no” votes. To reach the 66.67 percent threshold, the measure needed 351,620 total votes — 721 more than it received.

The partial recount may begin as soon as Monday. Dao said the transportation commission is looking for volunteers to monitor the recount. Those interested in volunteering may contact Angie Ayers-Smith at AAyers@AlamedaCTC.org

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