Santa Clara County's election will not be reviewed by the Secretary of State after all, despite public speculation about a county IT manager who quit the day before voters went to the polls and a request from the county for an independent evaluation.
The concerns prompted the county to request last week an independent review from the state of its Election Day procedures. But on Tuesday, county Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey told the Weekly that state officials have informed her office that they will not go ahead with the review. Bushey said she discussed the potential review with the Secretary of State officials on Monday and expects a letter from the state stating that "they have full confidence in our vote counts and procedures."
Bushey said she is also fully confident in Election Day results, which are still being tabulated. She said the office continues to count the roughly 11,000 remaining provisional ballots, a process that could spill over into the weekend. The delay in getting out the final count is nothing new, Bushey said, and this year's vote followed the same procedures as those in prior years. The county "did not have any problems whatsoever with our ballot tabulations," she said.
The resignation of IT manager Joseph Le fueled speculations about the county's election process, but Bushey said it had no impact on the tabulations.
"I've been assuring everyone that one person not being here does not mean the process has stopped," Bushey said. "Anyone can not be here and we will carry on."
She noted that another member of the IT division who has worked for many years alongside Le picked up the responsibilities and the office was "able to proceed as normal."
Bushey said the county is processing several thousand provisional ballots (those that require extra attention, including a verification of the voter's status) each day. She could not estimate how many of the roughly 11,000 left are from Palo Alto because the ballots are not sorted by districts, she said. The uncertainty means that suspense will likely continue for at least a few more days in the City Council and Board of Education races. For the fifth seat on the council, Cory Wolbach was leading Lydia Kou by 172 votes as of Tuesday afternoon, and for the second school board seat, Terry Godfrey was 190 votes ahead of Catherine Crystal Foster.
On Nov. 18, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian sent a referral request to his colleagues regarding ways to investigate and correct the problems. Simitian asked the board to have county administrators report to the Finance and Government Operations Committee with a review of the Registrar of Voters' processes, procedures and technologies leading to the delayed tallying and any security issues.
He noted that at 4:01 a.m. the morning following the election, Santa Clara County was the last in the Bay Area to provide a total count of precinct ballots. A website glitch prevented viewing updated results at 9:30 p.m. on election night.
Simitian has asked the board to direct the administrators to work with the Silicon Valley Talent Partnership to find private-sector volunteers to help the county understand the problems. The Talent Partnership creates pro bono partnerships with the private sector and government agencies in need of advanced technologies and methods, according to its website.
View unofficial election results on the Registrar's website.