Thousands of ballots yet to be counted in El Dorado County
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It could be sometime before voters in El Dorado County know the official results of the Nov. 6 election.
Following the first count late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, El Dorado County still had an estimated 24,500 outstanding ballots to process for the entire county, according to Linda Webster, assistant registrar of voters for El Dorado County.
Of those, approximately 13,000 are vote-by-mail ballots dropped off on Election Day, 2,600 are provisional ballots and 8,300 were a combination of different ballots in the possession of election officials at the end of the day Tuesday.
The county expects to put another update out toward the end of the day Friday, however, there will still be plenty of ballots to count after that.
“I wish,” Webster said with a laugh when asked if all 24,500 ballots would be processed by the time of the next update.
Assuming those provisional ballots are validated, the county is on track to see higher turnout than it did in the 2014 midterm, which was 58.89 percent. Webster said 2014 was a historically bad year for turnout.
While some areas in California reported long lines, some extending beyond the close of polls at 8 p.m. Tuesday, El Dorado did not experience similar issues, according to Webster. Some polling places were very active and had lines through most of the day, but none had similar problems.
“It was busy but it was great,” Webster said. “We love to see the turnout.”
The elections department has 30 days to finalize the election results.
Here are the most recent numbers for local races provided by the elections department.
South Tahoe Public Utility District Board
In the race for three seats on the STPUD board, candidate Nick Exline is in first with 23.27 percent of the vote. Incumbents Chris Cefalu and Jim Jones round out the top three with 17.54 and 15.78 percent, respectively.
Former board member Eric Schafer is next with 15.05 percent followed by incumbent Duane Wallace with 14.96 percent and former board member Louis Pierini at 13.04 percent.
South Lake Tahoe City Clerk
Current Assistant City Clerk Susan Blankenship has a commanding lead in the race for city clerk. She leads with 60.22 percent of the vote over former Assistant City Clerk Ellen Palazzo. The two were vying to replace Susan Alessi, who retired earlier this year prior the end of her term.
El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor
El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel is on track to defeat challenger Kenny Curtzwiler for the second time in four years.
With turnout at 47.2 percent, Novasel received 4,690 votes (52.36 percent) while Curtzwiler received 4,226 (47.18 percent).
A long-time member of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education, Novasel was first elected supervisor in 2014. In that race she beat Curtzwiler by a wider margin.
The long-time local, known as Lake Tahoe Ski Bum, has narrowed the margin this time around, according to the unofficial results.
El Dorado County Ballot Measures
County voters have given a strong endorsement to legalized cannabis while slamming the door on a proposed tax increase on hotel stays, according to unofficial results.
Voters overwhelmingly voted “yes” on each of the five cannabis-related questions in the county (Measures N, P, Q, R and S). Each of those questions received at least 59 percent “yes” votes — an impressive gap in an election year with no shortage of tight races.
The vote on Measure J was not as lopsided but still decisive. The measure would increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) — a tourist occupancy tax on hotel, motel and vacation home rental stays of less than 30 days — from 10 to 12 percent.
According to the unofficial results, 33,696 (55.79 percent) voted against the measure while 26,704 (44.21 percent) voted in favor of the measure.