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SAN JOSE DIVIDED: POST-ELECTION RESULTS & DOUBTS HIGHLIGHT CITY ISSUES; NOVEMBER 2014 MIDTERM ELECTION DRAGS-ON

A FEW DAYS AFTER SAN JOSE’S MIDTERM ELECTION FOR NOVEMBER 2014, SOME MATTERS REMAIN QUESTIONABLE, WHILE OTHERS APPEAR TO BE REVEALING.  THAT’S INCLUDING A CLOSE U.S. CONGRESSIONAL RACE AND A MAYORAL ELECTION THAT REMAINS UNRESOLVED.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters last updated its website, declaring “Precincts Completely Reported: 1,066 of 1,066” as of early evening, just before 5:00pm on Thursday 6 November 2014.   However, just an hour thereafter, KNTV/NBC Bay Area reported, “Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters’ Head of IT Quit on Even of Election Day.”  The County Registrar responded by claiming that the sudden departure of its head of “Information Technology” did not impact the workload and fallout of Election Day.  However, situations have dragged on since last Tuesday, with neither mayoral candidate achieving closure for a complete victory.

KNTV included in its same report that “sources within the county said a so-called whistle-blower complaint was made to a county officer’s office alleging voting irregularities that could affect the total of the votes.”  Over this weekend, post-election day, there’s yet to be specifics as to what this entails, nor what impact or significance it has on the election.

As of the morning of Friday 7 November, these matters primarily had significance in the city of San Jose, not just with regards to the mayoral candidates Dave Cortese and Sam Liccardo; but, also a U.S. congressional seat that was contested between incumbent Mike Honda and Ro Khanna.   Both of these races were quite divisive, highlighting the tensions in city politics; but, more so, the social and class differences between residents in this city, among other matters.

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Ro Khanna delayed for a while, but he finally conceded to Mike Honda as of later that evening, Friday 7 November; that’s even though the margin was at a mere 5% and the issues at the County Registrar were outstanding.   As the registrar’s report currently stood, Honda’s votes amounted to 36,691, figuring at 52.50%; whereas,  Khanna’s votes amounted to 33,191 at 47.50%.  The difference in numbers is exactly 3,500 votes, which was from a total of 69,882 combined votes, reporting from 257 precincts.

As of Saturday night, Honda’s votes increased to 47,992, figuring at 52.16%; whereas, Khanna’s votes increased to 44,019 at 47.84%.   The percentage of margin dropped to 4.32%.   Combined between the two of them, 92,011 votes are now counted, increasing the total by 22,129 voters, from the previous night’s tally.  Honda’s votes increased by 11,301; whereas, Khanna’s increased by 10,828.

Candidates from both the U.S. congressional and mayoral races were all Democratic, although the differences between them were a prevailing theme throughout the 2014 campaign year, as this mostly involved a war of words between the candidates that were backed by Silicon Valley big-business money versus those representing grass-roots and labor interest.

Honda’s exclamation towards victory highlighted that theme, as he came out with no uncertain terms, making a rebuke that was picked-up by Politico and therein addressing the realpolitik.

“Together we sent a message this election could not be bought by super PACs and right-wing millionaires and billionaires…  This district, and our democracy, are not for sale” said Honda.

The incumbent U.S. Representative for District 17 echoed a theme in the national dialog, that had repercussions in San Jose’s mayoral campaign.  

So far, throughout the campaign and even in its aftermath, that rhetoric has seemed a bit more understated by Dave Cortese, himself.  The candidate isn’t taking on as much of a pointed regard to the PAC money, especially as it relates to his opponent, Sam Liccardo.  Through most of the mayoral campaign, Liccardo had not hesitated to rail against union and labor groups, even accusing Cortese of favoring those interests during a debate in Willow Glen’s District 6.  Nevertheless, then, as even now, Cortese has seemingly not been as outspoken in that kind of repartee or tit-for-tat, so as to question the big business PAC money that favors Liccardo.   That hasn’t stopped labor and other grass-roots political interests, which have made that stance on his behalf.

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Throughout the campaign, Cortese has appeared somewhat steely in his regards, addressing certain political talking points that speak to his contingent, but not directly participating in the usual banter between labor and big-business.  Now that the election is over, he’s coming off firm in his posture, while not yet conceding the election.  That’s as he lets outlying matters drift over the last days and into the weekend.   The grey cloud of controversy remains overhead at the Registrar of Voters and the determination of the mayoral election goes unknown.

Add to that, the margin between these candidates was at a mere 2% as of Thursday; whereas it then became 2.58% as of Friday.  As these numbers rested on that day, Liccardo had 72,974 votes, figuring at 51.29%; which is to Cortese’s 68,301 votes at 48.71%.  That made a nominal spread of 4,673 votes between the candidates.

As of Saturday night things changed a bit, with a slight margin change from 2% to 2.32%.  Liccardo now has 80,448 votes to Cortese’s 76,801.   Although the marginal percentage increased, the nominal spread actually decreased to 3,647 (a difference of 1,026, as reported from last night’s spread between candidates).

Liccardo picked-up 7,474 votes from last night, to Cortese’s 8,500.   So, Cortese somewhat benefited from waiting out, as he took the greater share of an additional 15,974 votes.

As of election night and the following day (Wednesday), the voter turnout for San Jose’s mayoral race at first seemed dismal, if not that observers came to wonder why the ballot counting process was dragging-on.  As of 11:00pm at election night, 126 of the 495 precincts had reported; whereas, by midnight, it increased to only 224 of 495.

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By that time, Cortese thanked his followers at the election night party (hosted at the Marriott Hotel in downtown San Jose), saying that he was going home that night, but he and his wife Pattie were looking forward to waking sometime around 4:00am to check-in with results.

Instead, by morning, that’s when residents realized things were not going well and the Registrar of Voters eventually came forward to claim that “Our results reporting has been consistent that we are one of the later counties in the entire state to come in.”  That was an explanation, but it didn’t quiet the concern.  The matter continued — as it still does now and throughout the weekend—calling attention to the slim margin, while also casting doubt.  Even as Liccardo claims victory for himself, it’s not yet complete.   More significantly, the results by no means translate into a mandate, given by voters for either candidate.  At best, it would perhaps be Cortese’s victory that would represent change, since Liccardo largely campaigned on a continuation of Mayor Reed’s legacy.  Liccardo is coming from within the existing city council with the support of the current Mayor; whereas, Cortese is a former San Jose Council-member and Vice Mayor, as well as he’s a current County Supervisor.

As of Friday night, between the two candidates there was only 142,275 votes, relative to a city that has an estimated population of  1,000,536 persons, as of year 2014 (per the U.S. Census projections).   As of Saturday, the extra 14,974 votes that were counted brought the number of  combined votes to 157,249.  Of course, not all 1 million plus people in San Jose are can truly eligible to vote.  But, it can be averaged at 75% of the estimated general population, given that:

In other words, it could be estimated that approximately 750,402 people are currently above age 18 and eligible to vote in the city of San Jose.

By those estimates, as of this last Friday, it looked as though only about 19% of San Jose’s voting population participated in the 2014 midterm election, therein determining the city’s new mayor.  Liccardo was already claiming victory, even though a very small margin was putting him over the top, as well as a significantly small portion of the voting population.

As of Saturday night, it can be said that just about 21% of the estimated and eligible population had voted.

As of Friday’s figures, that’s 142,275 who voted, compared to Saturday’s 157,249; which is taken as a percentage from of the estimated 750,402 that are of eligible age.

As of Saturday night, that figure jumped to 157,249 voters, combined between the mayoral candidates.  Once again, there’s been 14,974 voters added to the counted tally, between Friday and Saturday.

But, it’s a given fact that voters make a choice of two candidates; therefore, it’s significance to note that this 19 to 21% of San Jose’s voting population that participated in this November 2014 could be divided in half, so as to determine the approximate percentage of those persons that have decided the next mayor of the City of San Jose.

Given the political divide and whichever way the results go, approximately 9.5 to 10.5% of the eligible voting population by age will determine San Jose next mayor.  That’s provided by the realization that it was a divisive campaign and each candidate garnered approximately half of the available votes.   By dividing the number in half, approximately 78,000 to 79,000 people have so far chosen one of two candidate that will lead the nation’s 10th largest city, which is estimated at 1 million plus people.

Beyond the differences in candidates, San Jose must struggle through morale issues in its governmental departments, as well as try to resolve intense issues like those of public safety and budgeting.  Both candidates have rather acknowledged the challenges ahead:

“It’s time to get to work on the business of this city… It’s time to put the battles behind us.” said Liccardo on Wednesday 5 Nov 2014, as he claimed victory.

Cortese acknowledges problems at the San Jose Police Department, such as with “a lot of talk about more resignations, maybe even on a mass basis” if Liccardo wins the election; nevertheless, Cortese says that officers should remain on service, whatever the outcome.

Despite these words from mayoral candidates, officers can still be heard saying things like, “A lot of people are thinking of departing, even me… This department has gone from a premiere organization to one that needs a lot of work.”  Many officers still claim — as the end reality of all arguments — that they can earn more at another city.  Therefore, if there continues to be little negotiation, then there’s few words that could maintain officers in San Jose’s force.

Beyond the problems in San Jose politics and government, compare these city’s statistics to the entirety of Santa Clara County; wherein, as of Friday night, the registrar reported that 281,038 people casted their ballot out of 805,502 registered voters.  The voter turnout for the county averaged at 34.89% as of that night.

Now, as of Saturday night, the Registrar’s website is reporting that 361,771 ballots were cast and voter turnout averaged at 44.91%.

As the drama continues into Sunday, when the County Registrar is expected to have more results, it’s still reported from its website that there’s 20,000 to 30,000 mail-in (absentee) ballots remaining; as well as 14,000 “provisional” ballots.

Provisional ballots are those which are questionable for the count, so determined if they are eligible, such as with: valid identification; appearance of a voter’s name on the electoral roll of a given precinct; inaccurate/out-dated voter registration; fraudulent/duplicated ballots by a voter; etc.

These provisional ballots can indeed become part of a controversy, such as that the Registrar’s Office is now under investigation after a whistleblower report claimed that votes were lost due to problems with the county’s computers.

As of Saturday night, it is still unknown if there’s significance between the whistleblower claim and the resignation of  the county’s IT Manager.

Whether a provisional ballot is counted is contingent upon the verification of that voter’s eligibility.

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SEE THE REGISTRAR OF VOTERS WEBSITE: http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/CA/Santa_Clara/54209/148774/Web01/en/summary.html

SIDE NOTES: This leads to some quirky analytical observations, comparing city to county:

  • The estimated population of Santa Clara County, as of year 2013, amounts to 1,862,041.
  • If using the same percentage (75%) as typical of San Jose and the rest of state, it could be estimated that 1,396,531 people were of eligible age to vote in the county by year 2013.
  • In 2013, San Jose made for 53% of the county population and it could be estimated that 748,902 people were of eligible age to vote in that city.  (It increased to 750,402, as of year 2014)
  • San Jose represents about 54% of the county’s voters that are of eligible age, per year 2013 census estimates.
  • The amount of voters registered in the overall county is smaller than that of the estimated general population for the city of San Jose (either of year 2013 or 2014).
  •  The current year’s number of all registered voters in the county is less than the amount of those people who live outside of San Jose, if only by about 56,000.

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