County Calls for Post-Election Manual Tally, Not a Full Recount

County Executive Jeff Smith announced Friday that the Registrar of Voters will conduct a post-election manual tally of 1 percent of precincts to ensure the accuracy of electronic vote scanners. The recount is not related to any particular local race, he noted in a statement, but it offers a last-gasp hope to candidates who trail by close margins.

The county's voting system has been under close scrutiny after it was reported that IT director Joseph Le quit the day before the election. CBS and several other media outlets have reported that he did not return county property, including a hard drive, and speculated that this may have affected election results.

“Contrary to news reports, no voter information is missing,” Smith said. “Voters may rest assured that the county has possession of the hard drive and other data reported missing in the media.”

Sources told San Jose Inside last week that Le had a role in several mistakes leading up to the election, including the omission of candidate information on sample ballots, which resulted in superiors taking away his ability to sign off on projects. Le reportedly took issue with his role being diminished.

Smith added that he cannot comment any further on the matter, presumably because it falls under the realm of personnel.

Adding a little tone—but no exclamation points—Smith said the county "will not be conducting an election recount. I am confident that the manual tally will confirm the election results.” That italicized emphasis could be reserved for several outspoken critics of the ROV, but mostly likely is directed at supporters of San Jose mayoral candidate Dave Cortese, who at last count trails Sam Liccardo by just 1.54 percent of the vote, 91,785 to 89,016.

Below is the full county press release:

County of Santa Clara to Conduct Routine Post Election One Percent Manual Tally

Small Manual Count of Votes Required by Law to Confirm Machine Results

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today, the County of Santa Clara announced that it is near completion of the count of provisional ballots from the November 4, 2014 General Election.  The count is expected to be completed by Sunday night.

In compliance with Elections Code section 15360, the next step in the process is to conduct a post-election manual tally of one percent of the precincts chosen at random.  The Elections Code ensures that all races are included in this process.  The ballots are counted by hand and compared to the machine count.

Amidst speculation concerning the timing of the former IT Manager’s last day of employment, which was November 3rd, the County’s Registrar of Voters requested on November 7th, that the California Secretary of State conduct a review of the election. The Secretary of State’s Office will not conduct a review and the County is proceeding with the post election tally as prescribed by the California Elections Code.

“Contrary to news reports, no voter information is missing,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. “Voters may rest assured that the County has possession of the hard drive and other data reported missing in the media.”

“I cannot comment any further on that matter,” Smith continued. “However, we will not be conducting an election recount. I am confident that the manual tally will confirm the election results.”

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

23 Comments

    • ” I think a FULL recount of ALL races should be done.” Why, Kathleen?

      • JMO- I have zero confidence in the RVO. After all the mistakes, the IT Supervisor quitting without notice, and the missing hard drive, it just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    • The notion that the county should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on recounting every single race when those dollars could be spent on feeding and clothing foster children, or some other key function of the county, seems to me very silly at best, thoughtless and irresponsible at worst.

      • CARTHAGUS- I disagree. Voter turn out gets lower and lower every election. Faith and trust in the voting process is vital. These screw ups by the RVO are unacceptable.

        A manual recount could help restore the faith and trust lost~

  1. It’s amazing, the computer algorithms are off and the counts are lopsided and the guy in charge disappeared to the bathroom when County investigators walked in and left a note he resigned. Now Cortese is still a Supervisor and has to eat his alleged defeat to keep all of you from finding out the vote was rigged. The door was cracked open on elections going back 10 years some of which Cortese won. So silence is the word. Everybody has corruption on everyone else and have used it like a surgical knife. So now it’s political control by insider computer control.

  2. I agree with Kathleen. With the IT guy disappearing, along with a hard drive, on the day of the election, many will doubt the credibility of this election, especially those results separated by relatively few votes. There should be a full recount so there are no doubts of the actual results.

    • You will never be convinced about Liccardo beating Cortese…the election is over and less than a month and a half he will be our new mayor – accept it instead of continuously trashing OUR mayor-elect. If you want to waste your own taxpayer money on a recount then that is your prerogative but i dont know anyone who is seriously questioning the results. I question the election commissions efficiency not ethics. Move on.

      With all that said – let’s unite behind the fact that votes can be counted more expediently – this is 19th century stuff here.

      • Fred, give it a rest please. I will be more than convinced if a recount shows the original vote was accurate. I do not think it will change the mayoral results, but it could change the races decided by a handful of votes. For the director of IT to disappear with a hard drive might be normal to you, but there are many people who will doubt the legitimacy of the election, given what happened. This would be the best thing for the winners of the races more than the losers. And Fred, I have not continuously trashed our mayor elect since the election, so please get your facts straight. I never mentioned his name in my prior post; I only said I agreed with Kathleen.

        • Who are these ‘many people’ who doubt the legitimacy of the election?…maybe you annd others shouldn’t be so quick to question the ethics of county officials – because that is what you are doing. The election is over – all of the elected candidates should commence with the less than month and a half transition to their new positions. How about the “many people” you speak of come forward and fund this full recount. The time and resources of the registrar should go to making the system better for future elections…annd doing a full recount does not turn the page it marinates in the negativity of a series of races that divided Santa Clara County…Annd your comments over the past 6 months have been quite negative.

          Also the reason why Maya lost was because she was not supported by labor as they focused more time and resources on Fong’s race when they should have focused on hers. A recount won’t change that result either, no matter how much you’d like it too.

          • SJC- No one cares who wins or losses anymore. Many community community groups have written the Board of Sups requesting a recount. It is a matter of trust in the process.

          • Fred,
            I am not going to be baited into a war of words with you. I do not care who wins or loses. As Kathleen said, it has to do with the process. Have a great night, bud.

          • Losing close elections after putting a lot of work into it stinks – it really does – however it is time to move on.

            The money that would go towards a manual recount to ease the minds of people who already have roofs over their head can be better spent on keeping the homeless warm this winter or another worthy endeavor.

            How many people clamoring for a complete recount had all of their preferred candidates elected and just want to have this recount to ensure the ‘integrity of the process’ – none.

    • If you want to hurt your community by needlessly wasting money that would otherwise be spent helping the poor disadvantaged, you are the definition of a sore loser. Even Dave Cortese, who lost by a slim margin, stated publicly that there is no reason to doubt the integrity of the results.

  3. This whole mayoral election since day one really STINKS. Metro, Merc, Snake Oil Salesmen. Reed.
    The only refreshing smell comes from the Michael Honda Victory.
    One hundred Thousand votes to count and Sam declares himself the Winner????? Oh yes count all of the votes at least once..
    This smells like the down town stairwells at public parking, Pew

  4. “The recount is not related to any particular local race, he noted in a statement,” The County Sup. loses a close one and the County Exec. calls for a recount. What a coincidence.

  5. SJC,
    “Losing close elections after putting a lot of work into it stinks – it really does – however it is time to move on.

    The money that would go towards a manual recount to ease the minds of people who already have roofs over their head can be better spent on keeping the homeless warm this winter or another worthy endeavor.

    How many people clamoring for a complete recount had all of their preferred candidates elected and just want to have this recount to ensure the ‘integrity of the process’ – none.”

    SJC- I strongly disagree with you on this! I really think you are missing the point of the importance of having faith and trust in how our votes are counted. Throughout the centuries, thousands of people fought hard to secure our right to vote, died, or were injured while dong it! They also fought to have the process structured in such a way that we could have faith in the outcome of vote tallying. That fight continues today!

    Frankly, I’m surprised that anyone would want to sweep this vital issue under the carpet like this, especially when these mistakes by the ROV’s Office KEEPS occurring!

    All I can say is that, I personally will NOT turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to this, regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels, or says.

  6. These elections were close so it shows that there is an importance in voting. In 3rd worls countries where the incumbent wins 95 percent of vote then maybe you would have a more valid point, however the closer the election the more incentive people have to convince their friebds and neighbors that didnt vote, to vote because, oh darn, their candidate lost by 200 votes. Closer elections engage more voters for future elections as they realize if they reached out to more friends maybe the result would have been different.

    If people see an election where the result could have gone one way or another and choose not to vote in the next election – they shouldnt be voting at all. I went to a citizenship ceremony this morning where the right to vote was emphasized and people were excited about the chance to vote.
    If lazy people choose to not cast a ballot because they dont take the time to educate themselves on the issues then I will not shed a tear and its because their lack of engagement is apathetic and i dont want those people voting if they simply dont care.

    • Again SJC- I’m surprised that anyone would want to sweep this vital issue under the carpet like this, especially when these mistakes by the ROV’s Office KEEPS occurring!

      All I can say is that, I personally will NOT turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to this, regardless of what anyone else thinks, feels, or says.

  7. Kathleen, I understand where you are coming from and ROV has been an issue for a while…however using taxpayer money to recount one election isnt the best way to fix the ROV.

    Say you get your way and there is a complete manual recount and the vote remains unchanged, that will give off the wrong perception that the ROV does not need to be fixed and you are in a worse position. An accurate full recount will create an illusion that although vote is slow to be counted the vote was accurate and thats all that matters and you are incidentally weakening the case the ROV needs to be changed.

    To tackle the long term issues of the ROV, dont focus on a short term event but petition the county to open up an investigation into the past few elections rather than a recount of one election….in short, dont focus on a short term event to fix a long term problem