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December 9, 2022

Elections officials hope to wrap up vote count by Wednesday

Nearly 500 ‘challenged’ ballots remain uncounted as of Nov. 21

San Benito County elections officials have a total of 617 ballots left to count in the Nov. 8 election as of Monday morning.

The vast majority of the uncounted ballots—498 mailed ballots—are considered “challenged,” and the voters who submitted them have until 5pm Nov. 23 to rectify those challenges in person, said Assistant County Clerk Francisco Diaz.

The challenged ballots were all sent by mail before or on Election Day. They have not been counted because they are missing a signature, or the signature does not match that on voter registration records, Diaz explained.

Diaz said the elections office has been in the process of contacting as many voters as they can who submitted the challenged ballots, giving them the chance to resolve the issues so their ballots can be counted. These voters have until 5pm Wednesday to visit the San Benito County Elections office in person, at 440 Fifth St. in Hollister, to resolve their ballot challenges.

Diaz said elections officials are planning to have all valid ballots from the Nov. 8 election counted by the night of Nov. 23. Of the remaining uncounted ballots, 109 are vote-by-mail ballots forwarded to the local office from other counties. These were postmarked on or before Nov. 8.

Also remaining to be counted are 10 provisional ballots cast by people whose voter registration status could not be verified on Election Day, Diaz said.

So far, elections officials have counted a total of 19,646 ballots cast in the Nov. 8 election. That’s about 52% of the county’s 37,735 registered voters.

Diaz said that’s a “good overall” turnout for a midterm election. “Hopefully, the next election will be larger,” Diaz said.

The uncounted ballots are unlikely to change the lead in any local races for offices in San Benito County, Hollister or San Juan Bautista.

As of the latest ballot count update posted on the county elections website, Dom Zanger leads appointed incumbent Betsy Dirks for Supervisor District 1 by 155 votes (2,348 for Zanger to 2,193 for Dirks).

In the race for Hollister Mayor, Mia Casey holds a solid lead over incumbent Ignacio Velazquez, garnering more than 58% of the 10,811 ballots cast for that office.

Incumbent Rolan Resendiz continues to lead the four-person field for Hollister Council District 2, with 48% of the vote, according to the county election results page.

In the election for Hollister City Council District 3, incumbent Dolores Morales leads with 56.5% of the vote, versus challenger Rosalinda Sanchez’s 43.5%, according to elections officials.

The closest race on the local ballot is for three seats on the San Juan Bautista City Council, in which a single uncounted ballot could change the lead. As of Nov. 21, Jackie Morris-Lopez leads that race with 396 votes, followed by Leslie Q. Jordan with 372 and Edwin J. Sabathia with 351.

The top three vote-getters will be elected to the San Juan Bautista council, and currently in fourth place in the ballot count is Jose Aranda with 350 votes—just one shy of breaking into the top three. Following Aranda is Steve Harris with 317 votes.

No significant change is likely in the results for any of the county measures on the ballot. Measure P (board of supervisor term limits) is still likely to pass with more than 77% of voters casting “Yes” votes.

Measure Q (general plan zoning amendment) and Measure R (TriCal safety buffer) are both defeated with 56% and 64% of voters, respectively, casting “No” votes.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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