The heated campaign for the First Council District has now turned into a waiting game as the meticulous and time consuming process of counting the final votes could take to the end of the month to complete.
Incumbent Councilman Gil Cedillo appeared to have avoided a runoff last week based on the preliminary results of the March 7 primary. The margin of victory, however, was razor thin and the second top vote getter, Joe Bray-Ali, said he won’t concede until all outstanding ballots have been counted.
More than 593,000 ballots from across L.A. County were processed and counted on election day. However, there were 294,000 ballots — including vote-by-mail, provisional, damaged and other ballots — that were not tabulated on March 7. That includes ballots from the 1st District, which includes all or portions of Angeleno Heights, Cypress Park, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mount Washington.
The task of counting those outstanding ballots falls to a group of county employees in the Norwalk headquarters of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. After the ballots are verified and processed, they are counted based on a schedule and the results updated until all outstanding ballots are tabulated and the election results certified by the clerk. That certification is expected to take place on March 31.
Last Friday, after the county clerk provided its first update, the news was not good for Bray-Ali. His share of the vote dropped to 35.85% from 36.12% (see update at bottom of this story). Meanwhile, Cedillo’s lead grew, climbing to 51.28% from 50.98%. Cedillo needs to stay above 50% to avoid a runoff with Bray-Ali.
The Bray-Ali campaign says about 5,000 ballots in the Council District 1 race had not been counted by the end of election day. That number, however, could not be verified by the spokeswoman for the county-clerk.
Despite Cedillo’s gain, the Bray-Ali campaign remains confident that the incumbent’s share will erode and fall below 50% once all the ballots are counted. If that happens, the two candidates would face off during a May 16 general election. The Eastsider contacted the Cedillo campaign for comment.
“I’m expecting his numbers to fade as the count progresses through late [vote-by-mail ballots],” said Bray-Ali. “This race is very much going down to the wire.”
The county clerk is scheduled to release another update today, Tuesday, March 14 (see update at the bottom of this story).
Updated Results from March 10
Results from March 8 before uncounted ballots had begun to be processed
Update: Cedillo’s share of the vote fell below 50% after the county clerk released today’s update (March 14). The incumbent councilman needs at least 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff with second-place challenger Bray-Ali, who now claims 38.14% of the vote. The results could keep changing as the county clerk continues to tabulate the remaining outstanding ballots and update the voting results.
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