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Leaders in Competitive Races Hold On After More Ballots Counted

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By Jorge Casuso

November 15, 2022 -- Leaders in the three Santa Monica races that remain to be decided inched further ahead after 284,084 votes were counted since Saturday.

As of the latest tally Tuesday afternoon, 1,892,727 votes have been counted, or 33.63 percent of LA County registered voters, leaving an estimated 655,050 ballots to be processed.

Of those, 553,000 are mail-in ballots sent by the County Registrar to all registered voters, a recent procedure that greatly delays counting ballots that can be received up to seven days after election day.

Mail-in ballots were initially sent to all California voters in May 2020 under an emergency order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the height of the coronavirus shutdown.

Newsom then signed a bill in September 2021 making it State law for all voters to be sent mail-in ballots in all future elections.

The five batches of votes the County Registrar has counted since election day have done little to change the overall results in Santa Monica.

In the race for three open Council seats, Rent Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis has led since the first vote counts were released some seven hours after the polls closed, followed by Jesse Zwick.

Councilmember Lana Negrete, the only incumbent in the race, was still holding on to the final spot on Tuesday, widening her margin over Natalya Zernitskaya to 720 votes since Saturday's count.

Negrete leads Armen Melkonians, who is in fifth place, by 940 votes.

Measure GS, Mayor Sue Himmelrich's transfer tax hike, also widened its lead since Saturday to 1,313 votes. As of Tuesday's tally, it had 14,579 yes votes, or 52.36 percent, to 13,266, no votes, or 47.64 percent. It needs a simple majority to win.

Meanwhile Measure SMC, the $375 million college bond, now leads with 56.54 percent of the vote after 6,297 votes were counted since Saturday. It needs 55 percent to win.

All the other local races -- including those for School, College and Rent Control boards, as well as seven ballot measures -- have been decided by insurmountable margins.

The estimates of outstanding ballots are not available by jurisdiction, according to The County Registrar and include ballots with signatures missing on the envelopes or that do not match the registration record.

"These voters have been notified with instructions on how to cure their ballot to be counted," County officials said.

The County Registrar has a 30-day canvassing period to process and verify all outstanding ballots "to ensure that every eligible ballot cast by Election Day is counted."

Nine more canvass updates are scheduled through December 5. The next ballot count update will be on Wednesday.

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