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Uranga leads Milrad in early count, but glitch may further prolong official results

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Photo by Joe Cannon Incumbent 7th District Councilmember Roberto Uranga (far left) awaits results Tuesday night from that day’s run-off election, along with fellow councilmembers Al Austin and Jeannine Pearce.

Seventh-district residents wanting certainty about who their next councilmember will be may have to wait even longer, thanks to a Los Angeles County printing error that omitted thousands of names from the roster that poll workers use to check in voters.

Jared Milrad, the challenger who faced incumbent Roberto Uranga in a run-off election this week, issued a statement early Wednesday morning indicating that, because voters left off the roster had to cast provisional ballots, there could still be enough votes to make him the winner.

The glitch did not seem to faze Uranga, however, as he issued what appeared to be a victory statement early Wednesday.

Unofficial results for Tuesday’s election from the County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk show Uranga with 2,512 votes, or 53.92 percent of the vote, and Milrad with 2,147 votes, or 46.08 percent.

With a rather close race compounding the County’s technical error, Milrad is clearly not ready to draft a concession speech.

In his statement Wednesday, he wrote that, from the beginning of his campaign, he and his staff have said that no one should be counted out before all votes are counted.
“Today, it is clear that thousands of our neighbors voted for change, and we will ensure that all votes are counted,” he wrote. “As of Los Angeles County’s latest update at 4:08am [Wednesday], only 4,782 ballots have been counted in our election. In our district’s primary election on April 10, 5,918 ballots were cast in an historically low-turnout election. We believe that thousands more District 7 voters participated in yesterday’s statewide primary election and their votes have yet to be counted.”
He further stated that his campaign anticipates that thousands of registered voters in his district who cast ballots in person Wednesday have yet to have their ballots counted.

“We will ensure that every vote is counted,” he added, “because every voter must have their voice heard.”

In his own statement, Uranga thanked those who put their support behind him and seemed confident that the unofficial results from Tuesday reflected what will be verified as final.

“I want to thank my supporters who put their trust in me for another four years,” Uranga wrote. “I also want to thank my family, my team and our volunteers who put every drop of sweat into this election, and in the end, the truth spoke for itself. I am very happy with the results and look forward to certification in a few weeks.”

In a phone interview Thursday morning, Myra Maravilla, city clerk specialist for Long Beach, confirmed that there are many vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to be counted, and that, indeed, those not on the voter rolls Tuesday would have been given provisional ballots, per procedure. She also shared with the Signal Tribune the County’s canvass-update schedule, which shows that the results reflected by newly processed votes will be updated at 1pm on June 8, 12, 15, 19 and 22. If necessary, other updates will be made on June 25, 27 and 29.

“I’m sure the very first things the County will tabulate for Friday, [June 8] are all the vote-by-mail ballots that were turned in at the polling places and that they received via mail from people that dropped it in the mail on Election Day,” Maravilla said.

She agreed that there is indeed still a possibility that Milrad could have garnered enough votes to win the seat.

“We’ll have to watch every time there’s an update to see if anything changes,” she said. “And, you know, it could be possible that [Milrad] could close the gap, probably, you know, next week or the following. There’s really no way to tell. Sometimes certain precincts are more heavy in support for one candidate versus another. So, if he thinks that there’s a good chance, based on his campaign and just getting more votes in certain precincts, then we’re going to have to wait and see.”

On Wednesday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a letter to Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan asking for information and action on the County’s printing error that affected voting rosters at several L.A. County polling places.

In the letter, which Padilla provided to the Signal Tribune, he stressed the importance of assuring voters that their ballots will be counted.

“During yesterday’s Statewide Direct Primary, you publicly announced that 118,522 Los Angeles County voters’ names were omitted from the rosters at more than 1,000 precincts in Los Angeles County,” Padilla wrote. “Based on your statements, I understand that this was the result of a ‘print job’ that created the printed rosters for Los Angeles County polling places and that the issue was unknown to you and your office prior to the election. As you know, each registrar of voters/county clerk in California is responsible for conducting elections in their respective county. While I applaud your efforts yesterday both to remind poll workers and voters of the provisional ballot option, as California’s chief elections officer, I am gravely concerned by this incident and will take steps to ensure that it does not happen again. In the meantime, it is imperative that we provide Los Angeles County voters and the general public assurances that provisional ballots cast by impacted voters will be expeditiously processed and added to the election results.”

Padilla then made four requests of Logan: immediately determine how many of those 118,522 voters voted provisionally, locate their provisional ballots and process those ballots no later than close of business on June 15; no later than close of business on June 15, notify in writing, each of the impacted voters that they are, in fact, registered to vote in California and inform them of whether their provisional ballot was counted and, if not, why not; no later than June 19, provide a comprehensive summary of those 118, 522 voters; and no later than June 22, provide a detailed report as to the root cause of the error, along with the steps Logan will take to ensure such an error is not repeated in any future elections.

Another race that could potentially be impacted– with nearly identical percentages as in the 7th District race– is the District 5 run-off between incumbent Stacy Mungo and Rich Dines. Mungo leads with 53.97 percent, or 4,551 votes, over Dines, who received 46.03 percent, or 3,881 votes.

With a considerably wider margin, the race for Long Beach Unified School District Member, Board of Education, District 3 currently shows Juan Benitez having garnered 2,953 votes, or 62.38 percent, over Cesar Armendariz, who got 1,781 votes, or 37.62 percent.

A majority of Long Beach voters also said yes to Measure M, which authorizes the City to transfer revenue from water, sewer and gas utilities to the general fund with a cap of 12 percent of each utility’s annual gross revenue. The tabulation as of press time was 20,684 yes votes and 18,258 votes against it.

In an email blast from his own campaign, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia wrote that the approval of the measure is “a result that speaks to the positive direction we are headed as a city.”

“Overall crime is at historic lows, unemployment is at record lows, trade at the port is at record highs and we are investing more in public infrastructure than we have in a generation,” Garcia wrote. “Measure M will allow us to continue moving our city forward, without increasing our taxes, and gives us the ability to affirm a practice that’s been in place for decades.”

The measure was controversial, with 46.89 percent of voters disapproving of it. Its official dissenters, who wrote the opposing statement for the City, urged voters to “stop the mayor and city council from their reckless spending and mismanagement of your money.”

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, whose 33rd District includes Signal Hill and 79 percent of Long Beach, was one of the top two vote-getters in the race for insurance commissioner in the state’s primary Tuesday. He will face Steve Poizner, a former state insurance commissioner and former Republican, who is now registered as an independent. If Lara wins this November, he will become the first openly gay statewide official in California.

Former Long Beach 4th District Councilmember and incumbent 70th District Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell garnered the most votes (58.9 percent) in the race to regain his seat and will face off against Honor “Mimi” Robson, a Libertarian who collected 17.41 percent of the votes.

In the primary race to represent the state’s 47th District in Congress, incumbent Democrat Alan Lowenthal from Long Beach earned 59.46 percent of the vote, trailed by Republican John Briscoe, who got 21.99 percent.

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Uranga leads Milrad in early count, but glitch may further prolong official results