Government / Politics

Observing the ballot count for the recall election

It’s a transparent process, open to the public.
David Quick and Francisco Diaz Lopez verifying delivery. Photo by Robert Eliason.
David Quick and Francisco Diaz Lopez verifying delivery. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Ballots being counted. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Ballots being counted. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Ballots being counted. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Ballots being counted. Photo by Robert Eliason.

In San Benito County, the counting of ballots in the California gubernatorial recall election began at 8 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the Elections Office. Around 10 people, including residents and reporters, watched in person. The counting was also live-streamed on the elections office’s Facebook page. 

According to the county office, 5376 people voted by mail, 302 people voted early, and 729 people voted in person on Election Day.  “Yes” votes totaled 6,407 (40.80%) and “No” votes totaled 9,295 (59.20%), defeating the recall effort. 

“We want to make sure that anyone who wishes to be a part of the procedure is welcome,” said Senior Elections Deputy Ana De Castro Maquiz. “We want them to see all the processes we have in place and all of the rules we follow on a daily basis.”

The process was swift and orderly, with a semi-official total issued by 10:08 p.m. 

“All ballots are transported with a two-person team,” said De Castro Maquiz. “They are coming in boxes that have been officially sealed at the vote center.”

The first results, covering mail-in and early voting ballots, were counted at the end of polling at 8 p.m. and accounted for about 93% of the vote total according to data released by the state’s elections office.

The next ballots to arrive were all cast on election day in person at the various county polling locations. The ballots from San Juan Bautista arrived first at 9:15 p.m., followed by ballots from the Election Office at 9:20 p.m., the National Guard Armory at 9:30 p.m., and Sunnyslope at 9:48 p.m.

Upon arrival, the seals were broken, and the contents were verified. The ballots were taken to a sorting table where four county employees inspected each one for any signs of problems. All ballots without issues were then taken to tabulating machines, counted, then taken to a secure location for later inspection should any irregularities be discovered.

The observers intensely watched the process through a clear divider, taking notes and occasional photographs. About three people raised concerns over the use of Dominion voting machines; individual ballots that were isolated for study; rumors of double-counted ballots in Monterey County; and even the source of the wi-fi signals in the area. No process in the count or certification of results involves wi-fi according to Chief Deputy County Clerk Recorder David Quick. 

Quick and Assistant County Clerk Recorder Francisco Diaz Lopez were on hand at all times to answer questions and explain the process. Semi-official results indicate that 52 of the 15,754 ballots were rejected for errors and will be examined further. 

 

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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink approached me as a photographer by have since encouraged me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.