Requests submitted for recounts in Antioch, Richmond council election races

Initial cost estimate of $38,500 per may be reduced by work on both

Could take 6 to 7 days

Herald publisher makes request on behalf of Motts in Antioch race

By Dawn Kruger, Civic Outreach and Engagement Specialist

The County Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department has received two recount requests for races in the November 8, 2022, General Election. One request is for the Antioch District 1 City Council race in which Tamisha Torres-Walker won over Joy Motts by three votes and the second is for the Richmond District 2 City Council race, which ended in a tie between Andrew Butt and Cesar Zepeda. Today, Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 5:00 p.m. is the deadline for requesting a recount.

In California, any voter may request a recount. For single-county races, a request for recount must be made within five days of the county canvass/certification. No reason is required.

“Our office conducted expanded manual tally audits for these two close races, which were attended by the affected candidates and media representatives. These audits were done above and beyond the state requirements and at the County Elections Division’s cost. Our staff has done an excellent job and I am confident in their work. These requests are within the rules for recounts,” said Debi Cooper, Clerk-Recorder-Registrar. “As per state law, the requestor of the recount must pay the cost for the recount. The cost is determined based on the steps involved in the recount, including the sorting out of the physical paper ballots. Our office is preparing estimated costs for the requestors based on the type of recount that have been requested.”

On Monday night, Allen Payton, Antioch resident and publisher of the Antioch Herald and Contra Costa Herald, submitted a request for a hand recount of the ballots on behalf of candidate Joy Motts who lost to incumbent Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. The letter was received by the elections staff Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, according to outgoing Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, the father of Andrew Butt who lost yesterday’s tiebreaker, the Butt campaign requested a hand recount of the ballots in that race.

The hand count by elections staff, last Thursday, was done using copies of images of the ballots that had been scanned through the machines. (See related articles here and here)

Once the costs are provided to the requestor, the recount will begin after payment for the first day’s processing is received. The recount must begin within 7 days of the official request. California law states that costs paid by the requestor are to be refunded if the recount changes the outcome of the election in favor of the requestor. The requestor is responsible for all costs of the recount. If the outcome does not change, the requestor may receive a refund if the amount paid was greater than the actual cost of the recount.

If the recount is conducted with the original paper ballots, the recount is expected to take 6-7 days. Conducting parallel recounts for two districts may save some shared costs but will take longer than the process for a single jurisdiction.

According to Tommy Gong, Deputy Clerk-Recorder, the initial estimate is $38,500 for each recount, as staff has to go to the warehouse, use a forklift and retrieve the boxes of ballots. That’s because, according to Helen Nolan, Assistant Registrar of Voters, the ballots are no longer stored by precinct but as they arrive in the Elections office. They will have to pull the 4,500 ballots from the estimated 1.3 million ballot pages submitted in the county during the November election. Each ballot included four pages, she added.

Wong estimated the sorting would take five days and recounting one day. However, he explained that they know how many ballots for each race and the results of the votes on those ballots that are in each box. Gong said the price for each recount could be reduced by sharing in the cost of retrieving and sorting the ballots. He also said he would also be checking with the Secretary of State’s office, today to determine if the recount could be done box by box in the warehouse which could further reduce the costs. Gong said he will know if that’s allowable Wednesday afternoon.

More information on recounts is available on the Secretary of State’s website here. You can also reach out to the Elections Division at 925-335-7800.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Ballot recount graphic artist

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