Recount ends with same result, Torres-Walker re-elected to Antioch Council

County elections office staff, candidates, their attorneys and supporters serving as observers gather Thursday in Martinez for a recount in the race for the Antioch City Council. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Zepeda’s election in Richmond council race also confirmed, Butt’s campaign files precursor to possible lawsuit but dropped it

By Chris Campos, Editor,

Republished with permission.

Joy Motts congratulates re-elected Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker following the announcement of the recount results on Friday.

MARTINEZ—Tamisha Torres-Walker, running for re-election for the Antioch City Council District 1 seat, came ahead by 3 votes on Nov. 8 beating challenger Joy Motts. After a lengthy and expensive recount Torres-Walker’s lead increased by one vote, according to the county elections office.

Allen Payton, publisher of the Antioch Herald but “acting as a resident and voter in the city,” requested the recount on Motts’ behalf. It’s been a costly exercise. Asked what the final price was Motts responded, “about $30,000.”

She was glad she went through the process. “With just a three vote difference I think it makes sense to go forward and the community agreed. I had support to pay for this.”

The results of the recount were announced Friday by County Clerk Deborah Cooper. The total for Motts dropped by one vote while Torres-Walker’s vote total didn’t change.

Asked for her thoughts Torres-Walker said, “I’m just excited for this to finally be over and celebrate this win. I’ve just been waiting for this process.  I’m going to go home and celebrate the holidays with my family and look forward to serving Antioch on the city council for the next four years.”

Payton, publisher of the Antioch Herald, offered to help fundraising and help cover the costs of the recount. Motts stated earlier on her Facebook account, “We have found out today that unfortunately, the County is charging upwards of $38,500 for this recount, an exorbitant amount of money. Nevertheless, we are moving forward to try and raise the necessary funds. If you would like to support my efforts for a full recount, you can donate on my website at

Motts’ daughter Rachel Motts and attorney, Chris Schweickert observe the recount by one of the two boards for the Antioch election while Mark Jordan (back left) observes the other election board’s recount, as Torres-Walker (back right) and her attorney Gary Winuk confer.

Payton said Friday, “about $20,000 total was raised by Mott’s campaign, most through her website, and spent as of today, including another $2,080 she paid today to the Contra Costa County Elections and $6,000 for elections attorney Chris Schweickert of Seto, Wood & Schweickert in Pleasant Hill for yesterday and today.”

On the first day of the recount 8 challenged vote-by-mail ballots and 4 challenged provisional ballots in the District 1 race were reviewed by Motts and Payton, who requested the recount on her behalf the previous week. It occurred at the Contra Costa County Clerk’s Office Elections Division office, with Deputy Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong, two elections office staff members as well as Torres-Walker and campaign consultant Melody Howe Weintraub monitoring the ballot count.

Of the ballots reviewed that day, two ballots were challenged by Motts and Payton for further review by Gong who allowed one to be counted and one was rejected.

Following the completion of the recount on Friday Andrew Butt (left) and his brother Daniel discus the challenge to ballots with Assistant Registrar Helen Nolan as Zepeda’s attorney listens.

A simultaneous recount is under way for the Andrew Butt campaign in Richmond’s District 2 race which ended in a tie and was broken last week by the drawing of an envelope out of a shopping bag. The results of the recount reduced Butt’s vote total by three and winner Cesar Zepeda’s vote count remaining the same.

As the challenge to those few ballots was transpiring, county elections staff were in the warehouse about a block away, retrieving 1,700 boxes of ballots in which the staff members have determined there are ballots for both the Antioch and Richmond elections. Those ballots were already put through the counting machines and included in the total vote count.

During a tour of the warehouse on Wednesday, Dec. 14, Elections Services Manager Travis Ebbert was asked if ballots could be stuck together and scanned through the machine. He responded it could happen, but there are checks and balances.

“There are ways that ballots get scanned and double scanned. The scanners are high speed. They go really fast,” Ebbert explained. “By the time the first ballot is processed the seventh ballot is being imaged. There are checks for that. There’s human intervention and a second person there.”

“There’s potential for human error out of the 1.5 million ballot pages (submitted in the county during the November election),” he continued. “In the 1% manual count there were no double scans. This was the smoothest scan with the least human intervention.”

Helen Nolan, the assistant registrar of Contra Costa County, said later, “Thank you to everyone who came to observe and be a part of the recount process today. I appreciate your patience; we know it’s not always exciting but it’s an important part of our democracy and protecting the vote!”

Elections Services Manager Travis Ebbert explains the ballot retrieval process from the boxes during a tour of the warehouse.

During an interview with a reporter for NBC Bay Area Motts said, “This was not the methodology my campaign asked for. We wanted them to look at all the ballots in all the boxes. But to do that would be an exorbitant amount of money. When they decided to do this targeted search we didn’t expect there would be much of a change.

Boxes containing the ballots for the Antioch and Richmond council races are retrieved from the warehouse on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

“The costs were split with the Butt campaign, so the total was $60,000 for both recounts,” she continued. “I think with elections this close they should automatically do a recount. As we saw today some ballots were adjudicated. I think it’s important that the county elections (office) does that and we as citizens support that.”

On Thursday Butt’s campaign filed the required paperwork on Thursday for a potential lawsuit challenging the election results but chose to drop it.

“What I filed on Thursday was an election contest under election code,” Daniel said, “It’s been muted by this recount result. It challenges specifically the two votes in the marina precinct. You also have to show it will change the outcome of the election. Now that Cesar has won by three votes, we’re dropping it. I’m keeping the door open to sue the city because the district map fails all criteria. But it won’t overturn the results of this election.”

“Both these candidates did the right thing in spite of opposition. They fought the good fight. But it’s worth looking into reducing the costs for recounts and requiring automatic recounts in close races,” he added.

Contra Costa County Elections Division staff provided the following information Friday evening:

Recount Results:
Antioch City Council District 1 Recount ANTIOCH Final Results by Precinct O&U
Tamisha Torres-Walker 1,467
Joy Motts 1,463
Diane Gibson-Gray 1,338

Richmond City Council District 2 Recount RICHMOND Final Results by Precinct
Andrew Butt 1,918
Cesar Zepeda 1,921

“These close races should remind voters how important every single vote is. I have been working for the Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department for 33 years and recounts have been extremely rare.” said Cooper. “Our elections team once again performed above and beyond, by recounting not one, but two city council races over the course of the past week and a half. These recounts confirmed the integrity of the elections through a transparent audit process.”

The final official report for this election is posted on the Contra Costa County Elections website and can be found at

Allen D. Payton contributed to the Richmond recount portion of this report.

the attachments to this post:

Recount ANTIOCH Final Results by Precinct O&U

Elections Services Manager Travis Ebbert in warehouse 12-14-22

Ballot boxes & retrieval process in warehouse 12-14-22

Recount RICHMOND Final Results by Precinct

Joy congratulates Tamisha 12-23-22

Butts challenge ballots 12-23-22

Antioch recount Day 1 12-22-22 2

Antioch recount Day 1 12-22-22 1

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