Automatic recount affirms results of Palo Alto school-board race

Three-term trustee Melissa Baten Caswell holds onto third seat

Results from an automatic recount triggered by a narrow margin in November's Palo Alto Board of Education election were released Thursday, with trustee Melissa Baten Caswell still securing the third open seat over fellow incumbent Heidi Emberling.

The recount put Baten Caswell 201 votes ahead of Emberling, with 13,580 total votes compared to Emberling's 13,379. The recount margin was just three votes fewer than the final election results.

Newcomer Jennifer DiBrienza held on to her strong lead in the recount with 20,905 votes, followed by Todd Collins with 15,301 votes.

One-term trustee Emberling had conceded to Baten Caswell close to a week after the election. DiBrienza, Collins and Baten Caswell were officially sworn in as trustees at the board's last meeting of the year on Dec. 13. Baten Caswell is serving a third term on the board.

The Palo Alto school board race was one of 10 contests countywide that were subject to the automatic recount, a pilot program launched by the county earlier this year. A recount is triggered in any election within Santa Clara County boundaries where the margin of victory for a candidate or measure is within 0.5 percent of the total number of ballots cast or fewer than 25 votes, if the election is not for a state or federal office.

The pilot program began with the June 7 primary election and only resulted in one recount, in a San Jose City Council election. The recount did not change the ultimate outcome of that race, though the losing council candidate filed a lawsuit to overturn the results, alleging the county's recount was mismanaged.

Recounts have not yet changed the outcome of any races from the Nov. 8 election, according to the Registrar of Voters. Five contests, including Los Altos City Council, are still being recounted.

View the recount results here.


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