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Breaking News: Jean Quan Wins Mayor's Race

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 10, 2010

Oakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan has won the Oakland mayor's race, defeating ex-state Senator Don Perata, 50.98% to 49.02%.

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It’s Wednesday … Do You Know Who Your Next Mayor Is?

By Evan Wagstaff
Oakland North
November 10, 2010

As of Wednesday morning, eight days after Oakland voters went to the polls to select their new mayor from among a field of ten candidates, there is still no new information about the outcome of the city’s first-ranked choice election, according to officials at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The final tally remains unknown with no indication of when the results will be certified.

Officials at the registrar’s office have said that the wait is not due to the new ranked-choice voting system, but rather to the time required to verify outstanding mail-in and provisional ballots, those contingent on verifying voter eligibility. Guy Ashley, spokesperson for Alameda Registrar of Voters, said there have been no updates since the ranked-choice calculation was run last week. “There’s been no update since last Friday,” Ashley said.

Residents fill out provisional ballots when they are not on the list of registered voters at their polling place. This can happen when a voter changes residences close to an election. The voter puts their completed ballot in an envelope with their information on the outside. The Registrar counts the ballot once the voter is found to be validly registered in Alameda County.

Though Thursday is Veteran’s Day, a county holiday, the registrar of voters has said that staff will be available to count votes through the holiday if necessary.

[To The Full Article]

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No Results Tuesday in Oakland Mayor's Race

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 9, 2010

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters likely will not post updated results today in the Oakland mayor's race because it's still not done counting provisional ballots.

Update 2:38 p.m.: Spokesman Guy Ashley said that there are "hundreds" of provisional ballots still to count. The registrar's office hopes to finish counting them by tomorrow. Thursday is a county holiday — it's Veteran's Day.

Update 2:44 p.m.: Just to be clear, the delays in posting results are being caused by the laborious process of counting provisional ballots. These ballots are cast by voters who show up at a polling station on Election Day but their names are not on the official roster for that location. It took ten days ito count them all in the 2006 Oakland mayor's election. The reason is that each ballot must be checked to see if it was cast by a registered voter. The signatures on the ballots also must be validated against the registrar's official records. The ballots also must be checked to make sure they were cast in the proper district. For example, if a voter in District 6 shows up at a District 4 polling station, they're not allowed to vote in the District 4 council race.

Update 2:51 p.m.: The count also is slow because representatives from the Don Perata and Jean Quan campaigns are on hand, watching the counting and asking questions of the counters about whether some ballots should be added to the totals or thrown out because of some defect. Perata, whose campaign is still flush with cash, has had up to three reps there, while Quan, who has depended on volunteers, has usually had one. The Rebecca Kaplan campaign has sometimes had a monitor there, too.

Update 3:05 p.m.: The registrar does not plan to post updated results until all the provisionals are counted. At that point, the registrar will run the ranked choice tabulation to determine who won the election. Running the computer tabulation typically only takes a couple of minutes. It's as simple as hitting a few key strokes and pressing enter. But the registrar decided not to post updates every day after contcerns were raised about displaying results that show candidates being eliminated from the race before all the ballots are in.

However, ranked choice voting advocates note that the candidates aren't really eliminated until the vote counting is over, and that the updates are just snapshots of the race as it currently stands. They also contend that the registrar should be posting these snapshot updates every day — even if the ballots aren't all counted — and that it should have begun on Election Night. They note that if the registrar had done that, then voters would have realized that the race was close from the beginning and that there never really was a clear frontrunner.

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Perata May Have Blown It on Ranked Choice Voting

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 9, 2010

The decision by ex-state Senator Don Perata to ignore the advantages of ranked choice voting may end up costing him the Oakland mayor’s race. Throughout the campaign, Perata repeatedly urged supporters to just vote for him, implied strongly that they should not select anyone else for their second and third choices, and failed to implore his rivals’ supporters to pick him as their second or third choice.

By contrast, current leader Councilwoman Jean Quan worked overtime to convince voters to pick her second or third on their ballots, while repeatedly urging her supporters to pick Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan second. The moves likely endeared her to Kaplan supporters. And it paid off. According to the most recent results, Quan received three times as many second and third-place votes from voters who selected Kaplan than Perata did. “It’s an extremely smart thing to do with ranked choice voting,” Steven Hill, a ranked choice voting advocate, said of Quan’s strategy.

But Perata’s strategy, which essentially was to show disdain for the new voting system, may have backfired. By telling voters to just pick him, he may have alienated supporters of Kaplan and Joe Tuman, who is currently in fourth place. He also sent an unspoken message that if he was not a voter’s first choice, then they should just leave him off their ballots.

[To Complete Article]

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Perata Campaign Overstates Gains He Has Made In Updated Counts

Anybody But Perata Website
November 8, 2010

The campaign of Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata put out a statement on its campaign website today seriously overstating the gains Perata has made in his lead over Councilmember Jean Quan in three days of counting since the polls closed.

In the statement, the Perata campaign said that "on Friday, the [Alameda County] Registrar [of Voters] confirmed that Don [Perata]'s lead over Councilmember Quan had grown to over 9,000 votes, from 5,000 on Election Night."

In fact, instead of the 4,000 vote gain his campaign claims, Perata has gained less than 800 votes between the Tuesday night count and the Friday night count.

Perata had an 8,215 vote lead over Quan in first-choice votes, 26,284 to 18,069, when the Registrar's office stopped counting the ballots on election night.

As of Friday evening's count, Perata had a 9,006 vote lead over Quan, 32,730 to 23,724, a net gain of 791 votes in the three days of counting.

The actual 791 vote gain in Perata's vote total over Quan since Tuesday is a far cry from the 4,000 vote gain his campaign is claiming.

The Perata campaign overstatement of its gains since over Quan in three days of counting since election day does not overstate his overall lead over Quan, which is 9,000 votes. But by claiming that Perata is rapidly pulling more and more ahead of Quan as the vote count goes on, the Perata campaign may be laying the groundwork to claim that he has been cheated out of the election when and if he loses in the ranked-choice vote count "elimination round."

The Perata campaign appeared to begin that process as soon as the preliminary ranked-choice vote count last Friday showed him coming in second to Quan. Following that preliminary run of the ranked-choice vote program—which will only be run officially after all of the first choice votes are counted—the Perata campaign issued a statement saying "“We’re unclear about Alameda County’s processes and await a final and accurate count.” The statement both implied that there was something "mysterious" going on with the ranked-choice voting procedure, as well as gave the impression that the ranked-choice vote program results might not be "accurate."

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Registrar Of Voters: No Results For Mayoral Race

By Evan Wagstaff
Oakland North
November 8, 2010

Staff from the Alameda Registrar of Voters office announced that they would not declare an official winner in Oakland’s mayoral race today, as a “few thousand” provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

Dave MacDonald, Registrar of Voters, announced at 4:00 pm that thousands of provisional ballots remain uncounted but that a certified result may be available by tomorrow. “It’s possible by tomorrow, but I don’t want to make any commitments or promises,” MacDonald said.

Staff at the registrar’s office will continue counting provisional ballots until late into the evening, officials said.

The latest ranked-choice calculation, released on Friday, showed city council member Jean Quan ahead of former state senator Don Perata by only 1,876 votes. Though every mail-in ballot has been processed—including several thousand votes that were not counted in the latest tally—MacDonald said that the ranked-choice voting software would not be used to calculate an updated result until the computer logs every uncounted ballot. “We won’t run [the software] again until all the votes have been counted,” MacDonald said.

Despite the lack of a certified result, Quan held a press conference at 4:30 pm on the steps of Oakland City Hall to thank supporters for coming out and answer questions from the press. She spoke about her priorities if she were to be officially elected mayor; the first thing she would take on, she said, would be ”looking at the budget. We’re not laying off more officers.”


A press release issued by the Perata campaign Monday evening said that Perata’s lead in first-choice votes will work to his advantage as the uncounted ballots filter in. “While Oakland’s experiment with RCV software produced an unusual outcome,” the release read, “we remain confident that Oakland voters’ clear first-choice preference for Senator Perata as Oakland’s next mayor will hold true once every ballot has been certified and counted.”

[To Full Article]

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November 8, 2010


CONTACT: Dave Macdonald or Guy Ashley of the Alameda County Registrar Of Voters Office

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald said today that ballot counting for the City of Oakland elections will not be completed by this afternoon, as previously indicated.

“We still have a relatively small number of provisional ballots that are taking a little longer to process than expected,’’ he said.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office – in agreement with the City of Oakland – has decided NOT to run the Ranked-Choice Voting algorithm in its release of the latest election results this afternoon.

The algorithm factors second- and third-choice votes into the ballot count in races where no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes.

The updated election results to be released this afternoon will reflect only first-choice votes.

The results will be updated – factoring in second- and third-choice votes - as soon as all ballots have been counted.

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Count Goes On In Oakland, San Leandro Mayor Races

By Chris Metinko
Oakland Tribune
November 8, 2010

OAKLAND -- The outcomes in a couple of East Bay mayor races -- including the battle for the Oakland mayor's seat -- became no clearer today, and may remain cloudy for days.

Dave Macdonald, Alameda County's registrar of voters, said his office -- in agreement with Oakland city officials -- would not release new results today based on the ranked-choice voting process because ballot counting was not complete.

"We still have a relatively small number of provisional ballots that are taking a little longer to process than expected,'' Macdonald said.

Both mayor races in Oakland and San Leandro remain up in the air, as no candidate in either race received the needed majority of initial votes to claim victory, leaving the races to be decided by the ranked-choice voting process -- which is being used for the first time in Alameda County in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro. Several thousand votes remain to be counted, he said.

[To Full Article]

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No Final Results Today [Monday] In Oakland Mayor's Race

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 8, 2010

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters just announced that it will not post final results in the Oakland mayor's race today because it has not yet finished counting all of the provisional ballots. The registrar only plans to update the first-place votes for the candidates this afternoon, and not run the final ranked choice tabulations until all of the ballots are counted.

Update 3:07 p.m.: Registrar spokesman Guy Ashley said there are still a few thousand provisional ballots to count. Provisional ballots are cast by voters who arrive at the polling station but their names are not on the official roster for that location. Counting them is typically a very slow process.

Update 3:11 p.m.: Ashley also said that update posted later today will include most of the 15,000 ballots from Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro that were counted over the weekend. Again, it will only be first-place ballots posted today, so expect ex-state Senator Don Perata to be shown in the lead even though he may not be. Councilwoman Jean Quan was shown Friday as moving ahead of Perata when the second- and third-place votes are added in.

Update 3:15 p.m.: The registrar has decided not to run the ranked-choice tabulations again until all of the votes are counted as part of an agreement made with the Oakland City Attorney's Office.

Update 3:20 p.m.: But the first-place votes posted today should still be illuminating. The tabulations from Friday showed that Perata or Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan must pick up lots of first-place votes in order for either of them to pass Quan.

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Quan Probably Was Leading the Entire Time, And She Has To Be the Odds-On Favorite

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 7, 2010

Statistically, Councilwoman Jean Quan will be tough to beat in the Oakland mayor’s race. For either Don Perata or Rebecca Kaplan to move past her in the ranked-choice tabulations, then the ballots yet to be counted will have to be much different from those that have already been recorded. Such an occurrence may be possible, particularly because we don’t know what parts of the city the late ballots came from. But it’s not likely.

Here’s why:

Let’s start with Perata. Looking at the numbers, the ex-senator is currently 2.18% behind Quan in ranked-choice tabulations, a difference of 1,876 votes. That may not sound like a lot, but there are probably only about 10,000 votes left to count in Oakland. The county registrar said Friday night that there were about 15,000 ballots total to count from Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro. And so Oakland’s share of those is probably about 10,000.

That means Perata would need to beat Quan by at least 19 percentage points on the remaining ranked-choice ballots. It’s a long-shot. The reason is that Quan beats him by a wide margin on second- and third-place votes. So far, she has picked up 20,051 of them, compared to his 9,176 (most of hers come from Kaplan supporters, as we noted Friday night). In other words, Perata will have to pick up a large percentage of the remaining first-place votes, while hoping that Quan won’t continue to pummel him on second- and third-place selections on the uncounted ballots.

Again, that would require the remaining ballots to be much different than the ones already counted. They’ll have to favor him by a huge margin. It’s possible, but unlikely, because in the post-election counting, Perata’s numbers have been shrinking. As ballots have been counted since Election Night, the ex-senator’s percentage of first-place votes has dropped from 35.20% to 33.96%. Quan’s, by contrast, have inched up from 24.30% to 24.64%, a swing of 1.58 percentage points in her favor. So not only does Perata need that trend to reverse itself, but he needs it to shift back in his favor in a big way.

[To Full Article]

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Perata Knew Ranked Choice Voting Posed a Problem for Him

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 6, 2010

One year ago, Don Perata attempted to block ranked choice voting from going into effect in this election. And based on last night’s stunning — albeit preliminary — results, it’s no wonder. The results showed that Councilwoman Jean Quan takes full advantage of Perata’s inability to attract second- and third-place votes and sweeps by the ex-senator if Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is eliminated from the race.

As the Express reported in the fall of 2009, Perata had urged Alameda County officials to not implement ranked choice voting for the November 2010 election. And then his close ally, Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, wrote a letter to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, asking her to block the new voting system from going into effect.

At the time, it appeared that Perata was attempting to force Quan out of the race. It was clear that Quan would have had trouble beating Perata if there were two elections — a traditional primary and then a general election. The ex-senator’s legendary fund-raising powers would have allowed him to greatly outspend Quan, not once, but twice. And so Quan may not have run if there was no ranked choice voting in this election.

Same with Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. She, too, may not have run without ranked choice voting. But the preliminary results reveal that under the new voting system she and Quan formed a formidable tandem against Perata — even though they didn't intend to do so. They're backed by differing factions, but it's clear now that most Kaplan supporters prefer Quan to Perata and there's reason to believe that Quan supporters feel the same way about Kaplan. Together, one of them might actually beat the East Bay’s unquestioned king of big money politics.

[To Full Article]

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A Note Of Caution About The Preliminary Ranked-Choice Vote Count

Anybody But Perata Website
November 6, 2010

A preliminary run of the ranked-choice voting computer program by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters on Friday shows Councilmember Jean Quan winning the Oakland mayor's race over second-place finisher Don Perata.

Observers should be cautioned that these are only preliminary results. Several thousand Oakland ballots have not been counted yet. Until they do, the preliminary ranked-choice computer run should be treated the same way as the uncompleted ballot count. Leads in uncompleted ballot counts are sometimes only temporary. While the preliminary ranked-choice vote computer run may indicate a trend, it is not a final result, and only the final ballot count and the ranked-choice vote computer run that follows it will determine the winner in the race to become Oakland's next mayor.

Under a ranked-choice voting system—such as what Oakland now has—there are two steps in the counting process. First, all of the ballots must be fed through scanners operated by Alameda County. Those scanners register the first, second, and third choices of each voter. However, in the ballot counts released by the Registrar of Voters office, only the first choice tallies are announced. If any candidate receives more than 50% of the vote at that time, the election is over, and they are the winner.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the first choice counting, the Registrar's office then runs a computer program that does not recount the ballots, but simply goes through a process of eliminating the last-place candidates, one by one, distributing their voters' second and/or third choice votes to the remaining candidates, until one candidate in the race comes up with more than 50%.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave MacDonald said in advance that Friday's ranked-choice vote computer run was preliminary, and was done for information purposes only. MacDonald will announce in advance when the final computer run is taken, and that will only happen after all of the ballots are fed through the county's vote scanners and all of the votes—both first, second, and third choice—are recorded.

MacDonald is now estimating that the counting could be finished and the final and official ranked-choice computer run made as early as Sunday or Monday.

Until then, no-one has won the Oakland mayor's race.

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Jean Quan Takes Oakland Lead From Don Perata

By Mathai Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle
November 6, 2010

In an abrupt and stunning turnaround in the race for Oakland mayor, Councilwoman Jean Quan vaulted into the lead - ahead of former state Sen. Don Perata who, until Friday, held a comfortable advantage and had been expected to win, unofficial election results showed.

The latest tally of votes put Quan on top with 51 percent compared with Perata's 48.9 percent in a race that tested Oakland's first election using ranked-choice voting.

Quan was helped immensely when third-place candidate Rebecca Kaplan was eliminated and her votes distributed to the two remaining candidates. Quan received 75 percent of those votes.

"That ballot transfer from Kaplan to Quan is unprecedented," said David Latterman, who has analyzed ranked-choice voting in San Francisco since it was introduced in supervisors' races there in 2004. "I underestimated that there are so many people who do not like Perata."

Thousands of provisional ballots remain to be counted and a final tally won't be released until Monday, according to the Alameda County registrar.

Quan was pleased with Friday's flip-flop.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," she said. "It looks like we did it. I'm catching my breath."

Perata and his spokesman, Rhys Williams, did not return calls or text messages. But the campaign released a terse statement saying, "It appears that there might be a reversal of fortune."

"We're unclear about Alameda County's processes and await a final and accurate count," the statement read. "The mystery of Ranked Choice voting continues."

[To The Full Article]

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In Oakland Mayoral Race, Quan Takes Lead Over Perata

By Evan Wagstaff & Staff
Oakland North
November 5, 2010

Oakland mayoral candidate Jean Quan overtook fellow candidate Don Perata Friday afternoon in the computer-run calculation of second and third-choice votes in Oakland’s new ranked-choice voting system. Although several thousand votes remain uncounted, Quan said she’s “feeling very good” about the latest results.

With all votes except county mail-in ballots tabulated and redistributed among the leading candidates, Quan currently has 51.09 percent of the vote and Perata 48.91 percent of the vote. The Alameda Registrar of Voters has said that there are still 15,000 uncounted ballots remaining throughout the county and with only a 1,876-vote difference between the two leading candidates, the race is still undetermined. It is unknown what percentage of the uncounted Alameda County ballots were cast by Oakland voters. Dave MacDonald, Registrar of Voters, said that complete results will be announced by Monday at 4:00 pm.

“We thought it was close,” Quan said late this afternoon. “I didn’t know I’d be quite this correct.”

The Perata campaign issued a short press release this evening, calling ranked-choice voting a “mystery” but reserving further comment for the final tally. “It appears there might be a reversal of fortune,” the release read. “We’re unclear about Alameda County’s processes and await a final and accurate count.”

[To The Full Article]

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Reversal in Oakland Mayor's Race
Quan pulls ahead of Perata after being down 11 points; count not yet final

By Zusha Elinson
Bay Citizen
November 5, 2010

An upset could be in the works in the Oakland mayor’s race.

Jean Quan took the lead Friday afternoon with 51 percent of the vote, after the preliminary results of ranked-choice voting were tabulated.

Former state Sen. Don Perata held a commanding lead — 35 percent to 24 percent — over Quan, a City Council member, on election night when just first-choice votes were counted.

The results are still not final though, because some votes haven’t been counted. In all of Alameda County, 122,000 provisional and mail-in ballots had yet to be counted as of Thursday, the registrar said. The East Bay Express estimated that at least 25,000 of those could be from Oakland.

That means the lead could change. Quan now leads Perata 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, a margin of less than 2,000 votes. The come-from-behind rally showed that voters who put third-place finisher Rebecca Kaplan first were more likely to rank Quan than Perata as a second preference on their ballots.

The Quan campaign had been hoping that Perata, who was the target of a five-year FBI investigation, would be so polarizing that he wouldn’t capture any second-place votes.

“It looks like the anybody-but-Perata movement played a significant role,” Quan said Friday afternoon.

[To The Full Article]

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Jean Quan Takes Lead In Oakland Mayor's Race In Unofficial Results

By Cecily Burt
Oakland Tribune
November 5, 2010

OAKLAND -- In what could be a comeback worthy of "Rocky," Jean Quan scrapped her way past Don Perata in the race for Oakland mayor, and has enough votes to win outright, according to preliminary ranked-choice voting results released Friday.

But can she hold on to that lead?

With about 15,000 ranked-choice ballots still to be counted in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro races, the results are likely to change. The question is by how much and in who's favor?

Former state Sen. Perata held a substantial, 11-point lead in first place votes since Tuesday's election, but it was Oakland Councilmember Quan who grabbed enough of her opponents' second- and third-place votes to climb above the 50 percent majority threshold after the Alameda County registrar ran the ballots through the ranked-choice computer program Friday afternoon.

The final -- albeit unofficial -- results showed that Quan received 51.09 percent of the votes to Perata's 48.91 percent -- a difference of 1.18 percent.

"It's pretty amazing if we win," Quan said. "We've been outspent by so many millions of dollars. Win or lose, given how much money was spent, it would really be a victory for grass-roots organizing. I'm so proud."

[To The Full Story]

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Breaking News: Jean Quan Takes Lead In Mayor's Race

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 5, 2010

Councilwoman Jean Quan has taken the lead in the Oakland mayor's race with 51% of the vote — thanks to preliminary results of ranked choice voting.

The preliminary results show that Quan got a huge bump from supporters of Rebecca Kaplan — if Kaplan fails to catch up to Quan when all the votes are counted. Quan picks up three times as many votes as ex-Senator Don Perata from Kaplan voters if Kaplan fails to advance into the final round of ranked choice balloting.

However, the results are subject to change because there are still huge numbers of ballots to count.

"We're not ready to declare victory yet, but it looks good," Quan said.

The preliminary results also show that Perata may face a tough road in his attempt to retake the lead. He not only needs to pick up a lot more first-place votes, but he also needs to come out ahead of Quan on more ballots that went for Kaplan.

The results show that before Kaplan is eliminated, Perata is still ahead of Quan by nine percentage points. But then without Kaplan in the race, Quan slingshots by Perata to take a two-point lead, 51.09% to 48.91%. Quan receives 15,426 votes from Kaplan ballots while Perata only picks up 5,133. Indeed, the Anyone But Perata movement that sprung up in recent months appears to have made it difficult for the ex-senator to win.

The ranked-choice voting results also show that Kaplan's attempt to overtake Quan and then speed by Perata, too, may not be that easy. To get past Quan, Kaplan needs to pick more votes when college professor Joe Tuman is eliminated. The results show that Kaplan gets 4,361 votes with Tuman out compared to 2,818 for Quan and 2,724 for Perata.

In other words, for Kaplan to have a chance, she's going to need a lot more first-place votes, and she's going to need to continue to pick up even more votes from Tuman supporters. And then if she does, she hopes to get a huge boost from Quan ballots to slingshot past Perata as well.

Update 5:55 p.m.: Registrar spokesman Guy Ashley said there are a total of 15,000 votes left to count in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro and that the office hopes to be done by late Sunday.

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Oakland Mayoral Count Update

As Of Thursday, November 4 4:30 p.m.


Alameda County Registrar Of Voters: "It Is Important To Understand That This Is NOT The Final Result"

From: Macdonald, Dave, ITD
Sent: Friday, November 05, 2010 11:47 AM
To: All BOS
Cc: Muranishi, Susan - CAO; Winnie, Richard, County Counsel
Subject: Ranked Choice Voting

Today at 4pm we will be releasing the Ranked Choice Voting results for Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro. This has created more interest than we anticipated so I have reserved room 255 to distribute the results and explain the process for whoever is interested.

It is important to understand that this is NOT the final result. There are many thousands of ballots still left to count for all contests. We are doing very well and are actually ahead of where I thought we would be. We had an unprecedented number of vote by mail ballots dropped off at the polls and that takes time to process. Every County is experiencing the same thing.

There is a very close race in Congressional District 11 that is getting a lot of attention. This district covers parts of Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and a small part of Alameda County. We have a large number of observers watching our process.

I will keep you informed of any issues that may arise.

Dave Macdonald

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What to Look for in Today’s Preliminary Ranked-Choice Results

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 5, 2010

As we reported yesterday, when the Alameda County Registrar of Voters runs the ranked choice program this afternoon, it will show results that may later prove erroneous. But since it appears that the registrar is going forward with it anyway, and today’s results will only be preliminary, let’s take a look of what we might expect them to show:

Oakland Mayor’s Race

1. The results will indicate how the second- and third-place choices for people who picked one of the six bottom-tier candidates as their first choice are going to break. In other words, did the folks who voted for Marcie Hodge, Don Macleay, Greg Harland, etc., as their first choice, select Don Perata, Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan, or Joe Tuman as their second or third picks?

2. Then, the results likely will indicate how the second- and third-place choices of voters who selected Joe Tuman first will go. Will they benefit Perata, Quan, or Kaplan?

3. If Kaplan can’t get enough of a boost from Tuman and the other candidates’ supporters, the results will indicate how voters who chose her first will break. For Quan to move into the lead, she’ll need to have been listed above Perata on the overwhelming majority of ballots that selected Kaplan ahead of her.

4. If Kaplan does get enough support from Tuman and the other candidates’ backers to leapfrog over Quan, then we’ll get an indication of what Quan supporters did on their ballots. Again, Kaplan we’ll need to have been listed above Perata on a super majority of ballots that went for Quan ahead of her in order to move past the ex-senator.

5. Finally, if Perata is shown to have easily gone over the 50-percent mark, will the news media declare him the winner — even though the results are still preliminary because there are so many ballots still to count?

[For The Full Story]

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County Election Results Released [On Friday] May Be Erroneous

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 4, 2010

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters plans to release preliminary ranked choice voting results tomorrow afternoon, even though it won’t be close to counting all the of the ballots cast in the election. And that means the results in close races in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro could show some candidates winning when they may actually end up losing.

As of this morning, 122,000 late absentee and provisional ballots still needed to be counted from throughout the county. Registrar Dave MacDonald said today that he would prefer to wait until his office counts all of the outstanding ballots before running the ranked-choice computer program and releasing the results. The program eliminates candidates with the fewest number of votes, and then adds voters’ second or third choices to the remaining candidates. However, the program can create problems if it’s run too early and eliminates candidates who shouldn’t be eliminated — because those candidates may move up in the rankings when all the votes are in. “You’re preaching to the choir,” MacDonald said after being asked whether it would make more sense to wait to run the ranked choice program until all the votes are in and counted.

Nonetheless, MacDonald plans to go forward with the premature tabulations tomorrow afternoon. He said that his office feels obligated to do so because it’s conducting the election on behalf of East Bay cities. And he said that the City of Oakland, particularly, the City Attorney’s Office, was adamant about doing it tomorrow.

But City Attorney John Russo said today that he doesn’t care whether MacDonald runs the ranked-choice program tomorrow or next week. “Accuracy is paramount,” he said. He also said that it wasn’t his office that pushed for the early count. It was the ranked-choice voting advocacy groups that were instrumental in bringing the system to the East Bay. Nevertheless, Russo said that he believes MacDonald should live up to his commitment to run the count tomorrow.

[For The Full Story]

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Is The Alameda County Registrar Of Voters About To Have A Premature Calculation In The Oakland Mayor's Race?

Anybody But Perata Website
November 4, 2010

Several news outlets have reported that Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave MacDonald is planning to run the second and third-choice computer program count in the Oakland mayor's race on Friday.

The question is, why?

First, it appears to be an impossibility that all of the first choice votes will be counted by Friday. With an estimated 25,000 Oakland votes left to be counted, the registrar's office only counted some 200 votes on Wednesday, the day after the election. It is unlikely that they will count any faster on Thursday. In a story on the Congressional District 11 race—which includes a portion of Alameda County—Lisa Vorderbrueggen of Inside Bay Area explained why it takes so long:

"Election officials typically stop counting vote-by-mail ballots a day or two before Election Day in order to prepare for precinct operations. When the Election Day tallies are done, they process the vote-by-mail ballots that arrived in the mail over the weekend, Monday and Tuesday plus the VBMs dropped off at the polls on Election Day.

"With the growing numbers of [vote by mail] voters and their tendency to drop them off at the polls, it drives up processing time. VBM ballots must be checked for valid signatures, stripped from their envelopes, manually rolled to remove the tri-fold creases and hand-fed into scanners. It takes a lot longer to count VBM ballots than the ballots filled out at precincts, which are fed directly into optical scanners."

"CD11 Is A Nail Biter"
November 3, 2010

Meanwhile, counting the second and third choice votes in the mayor's race is meaningless until all of the first choice votes have been counted.

That's because the first step in the second round of counting is to count the second choice votes of the candidate who comes in 10th (last) in the race. The Registrar won't know who came in last until all of the votes are counted.

It doesn't matter which order the Registrar counts the 7th through 10th place finishers in Tuesday's voting, since only about 550 votes currently separate them, not enough to make a difference in counting their second choice votes towards the rest of the candidates.

But the gap between the candidates gets larger as you go higher up the order of finishers. There's a 450 vote gap between the preliminary 7th place finisher Don Macleay and the preliminary 6th place finisher Terrance Candell. If you run the second choice vote totals based upon these preliminary standings, Macleay's current 994 votes get redistributed to the candidates above him, based upon his second choice. If a count of the remaining first choice votes reversed the order of their standing, it would be Candell's second choice votes that would be redistributed. Since one assumes that the second choices of Macleay and Candell voters would probably be somewhat different, the order their second choice votes get counted could make a difference in who ultimately wins.

This is because the real contest in the Oakland mayor's race count is who will make the last round of the counting. If the standings remain in the current order, and no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote until the last round, that last round of counting would be between Don Perata and Jean Quan. But only 3 percentage points separate Quan's total from the total of Rebecca Kaplan. That means the counting of the remaining 25,000 first choice votes, or changes in the order of how the second choice votes are counted, could mean the difference between a Perata/Quan standoff in the final round of counting, or a Perata/Kaplan standoff. And purposely and deliberately not speculating who would have the better chance in that final round, Quan or Kaplan (since we have no idea who would have the better chance), a change in who among the two makes that final round could mean a difference between a Perata victory or a Perata defeat.

Does all of that sound complicated?

It comes down to this. The only second and third choice vote counting that actually counts in the final decision on who is Oakland's mayor is the counting that begins after all—and we stress all—of the first choice votes have been counted. And we're a long ways off from that.

However, the results of a preliminary second and third choice calculation—such as the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office appears to be planning for Friday—could have a political effect on the outcome. One has to only remember the 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry, in which many news outlets (spurred on by Republicans) announced that Ohio—and thus the presidency—had gone to Bush. The presumption that he was fighting against an outcome that had already gone against him put enormous pressure on Kerry to drop a challenge of the Ohio votes, a challenge which a large number of observers felt he could have won because of the large number of irregularities. Some media outlets—Oakbook and the Chronicle—are already declaring Perata the "insurmountable" victor, and that drumbeat is likely to increase. In that atmosphere, a Friday Registrar of Voters preliminary second and third choice calculation that counted a Perata victory—even though that preliminary calculation would have no legal effect and could not predict who would actually win—would certainly be used to put pressure on the candidates coming in behind him to concede the race.

Given that, it would be interesting to know who Joe Tuman ("This Race Is Still Very Much In Play") believes is pressuring the Registrar of Voters to go forward with Friday's preliminary calculation of the second and third choice votes in the Oakland mayoral race, even before the first choice votes are finished being counted.

And the question, again, is why is the Registrar is going along with it?

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With Thousands Of Votes Still Left To Count, Some Media Outlets Have Already Called The Election For Perata

Anybody But Perata Website
November 4, 2010

Despite the fact that as many as 25,000 ballots remain to be counted in the Oakland mayoral race, some local media outlets have already begun to assume a Don Perata victory.

The preliminary results of the November 2 balloting, after the first round of counting on November 2 and a second round—which added some 200 total votes—are as follows:

Based upon those numbers, longtime Oakland political commentator Brenda Payton concluded the following in a November 3 column in The Oakbook:

"The candidate everyone is trying to beat is Perata. According to David Latterman, principal of Fall Line Analytics, a political research firm, it’s not likely anyone will.

"Latterman, a RCV expert who advised the Perata campaign, called Perata’s lead “insurmountable.” He said the runner-up would have to be within one to four percentage points to be able to surpass the frontrunner when the second-choice ballots are tabulated. For one, a number of people will not have marked a second choice - particularly the first time RCV is used. These “exhausted” ballots are thrown out once the first choice is out of the running. Secondly, Latterman said people don’t put as much thought in their second choice, so name recognition is even more of a factor.

"Oaklanders won’t know the official numbers until Friday. But if Latterman’s experience holds up in Oakland, the Don will be the next mayor."

"The Don Oakland's Next Likely Mayor"

On Thursday, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Matthew Kuruvila wrote a remarkably similar conclusion:

"It may be a week before all the ballots are counted in the Oakland election, but indications are that former state Sen. Don Perata will be the city's new mayor.

"Past patterns in ranked-choice voting - the system that Oakland used Tuesday for the first time - suggest that second-place candidate City Councilwoman Jean Quan is too far behind Perata to catch up, experts and even Quan said Wednesday.

"As of late Wednesday, Perata had 35 percent of the first-place votes, followed by Quan at 24 percent. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan had 21 percent, and first-time candidate Joe Tuman had 12 percent.

"In San Francisco, which has used ranked-choice voting in supervisors' races since 2004, candidates in first place after the initial vote count are virtually guaranteed of victory. The only chance for a second-place finisher is if they are "relatively close" before eliminated candidates' second-choice votes are distributed, Quan said.

"'Obviously, I'm not relatively close,' she said. 'All the pundits say this is a hard gap' to bridge.

"Under ranked choice, last-place candidates' second picks are distributed to the remaining hopefuls until someone has a majority. To overtake a first-place finisher, second-place candidates generally need to be within a percentage point or two of the leader, said David Latterman, a San Francisco pollster and expert on ranked-choice voting.

"'At 11 points back, "mathematically, she (Quan) just can't do it,' Latterman said. 'She would have to get virtually 100 percent of the votes of everybody behind her.'"

"Oakland Mayor: Perata's Lead Seems Insurmountable"

The first problem with both of these stories is that they rely upon the same ranked-choice voting expert to analyze the preliminary results, David Latterman, who both articles reveal advised Don Perata during the election campaign. Given Latterman's advisory relationship with the Perata campaign, both the Oakbook and The Chronicle should have balanced Latterman's conclusions with another ranked-choice voting expert who was actually neutral and objective.

Second, a careful reading of the Latterman analysis of an inevitable Perata victory shows that it is based upon the percentages in the preliminary count. Perata, the top vote-getter in the ballots counted so far, got a little over 26,000 votes so far. If Bob Gammon's estimate is correct ("122,000 Ballots Still To Count In Alameda County"), there are still some 25,000 votes left to be counted, almost the entire Perata total. Latterman's estimate of an "insurmountable" lead are all based upon a calculation that comes after all of the first-choice ballots are counted. Even if Latterman could be trusted to be objective in his analysis, that analysis is only based upon partial figures and, therefore, worthless.

The percentages of the leaders in the Oakland mayoral race could well be the same after all the first choice votes are counted. Or the percentages could be different and the order of finishing different, up to and including the first place finisher.

People are free to make any analysis any time they want. But anyone wanting to get a heads-up on what the final outcome in the Oakland mayoral race might be ought to wait for the analysis to come only after the first round of votes are fully and actually counted.

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122,000 Ballots Still To Count In Alameda County

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
November 4, 2010

The final outcome of close election races in Alameda County may not be known until some time next week because there are still 122,000 ballots that must be counted. County Registrar Dave MacDonald said this morning that there are about 90,000 absentee and 32,000 provisional ballots that must be tallied. MacDonald also acknowledged that it won’t be possible to count them all by tomorrow, as many observers had hoped.

In fact, the registrar of voters has not yet sorted the ballots because there are so many of them. As a result, it’s unclear how many came from Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro, which all still have undecided election races. But based on the number of ballots cast so far, Oakland may have more than 25,000 ballots left to count.

Late absentees are ballots that voters fill out at home and then turn in at the polls on Election Day, along with those that were mailed late and arrived Tuesday at the registrar’s office. Provisional ballots come from voters who arrive at a polling place, but their names are not on the official roster for that particular location.

Unfortunately, counting those ballots is a slow process. They have to be sorted to make sure that ballots from the same jurisdiction are counted together. Then the signature on each absentee ballot must be matched with the voter's registration form. Registrar staffers also must verify that the voter had not already voted. The process for sorting and counting provisional ballots includes a similarly laborious process.

In the 2006 Oakland mayoral election, it took the registrar’s office ten days to count all the late absentees and provisionals before declaring Ron Dellums the winner. And MacDonald said his office received even more such ballots in this year’s election — although his office appears to be much better prepared this year.

Yesterday, the registrar’s office was able to count about 6,500 late absentees and provisionals. The office plans to post an update with the ballots it has counted today at 4 p.m.

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"This Race Is Still Very Much In Play"

By Joe Tuman
November 4, 2010

Dear Oaklanders,

Thank you all for your notes of encouragement--but I want to assure you that this race is still very much in play.

One hour ago [around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 4] I spoke at length with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, and he assured me that the final result in this election might take another one to two weeks to verify. That is because there are a huge number of provisional and absentee ballots, county-wide, which still have to be verified and counted. When I say a huge number, I mean one that may reach (for Alameda County) into the six digit range. Oakland is the County seat, and will undoubtedly have a large share of these votes. Theoretically, if they are counted, they may mean that one of the candidates has already won (doubtful with ten candidates), or more likely, that the order at the top might shift. As of today I am behind Rebecca Kaplan in the rankings (in fourth place to her third)--but the additional votes may alter that for me--jut as it may possibly change her rankings, or Jean Quan's, or Don Perata's. The truth is, with so many votes to still count, we do not know as of today.

To make things more confusing, the Registrar is being pressured to make calculations for instant run-off, starting Friday--even though this will only be based on votes that have already been cast. This will only be preliminary, however, since the algorithm to do this must be based on ALL votes cast--and the others won't have been counted for another week or two. At best, this will give some kind of incomplete snapshot of where the election may go--but without the other votes, we'll be no closer to knowing the outcome than we are today.

So, have faith and be patient. Nothing is decided yet. All we know for certain today is that based upon those ballots already cast and counted, we are in fourth place. Let the process run its course.

- Joe Tuman

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You can contact the Anybody But Perata For Mayor website at admin@notdon.org