ELECTION 2014: Spencer extends lead in mayor's race

ELECTION 2014: Spencer extends lead in mayor's race

Michele Ellson
Trish Spencer

Updated at 10:34 a.m. Monday, November 10 in BOLD

Mayoral challenger Trish Spencer extended her lead over incumbent Marie Gilmore on Sunday, a shift that may close the door on Gilmore’s chances of keeping her seat.

Spencer now leads Gilmore by 127 votes, more than double the 58-vote lead she held when results were released Saturday. That’s after 863 additional Alameda votes were counted Sunday.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters counted about 10,000 votes on Sunday, numbers it released on its website showed. Registrar Tim Dupuis said Monday his office has another 14,000 provisional ballots to process.

Jim Meyers also held his lead over Alameda Health Care District Board member Lynn Bratchett on Sunday; new results showed Meyers has a 179-vote lead for the third open seat on the board.

More to come.


Marie Gilmore (i): 10,116/49.54%
Trish Spencer: 10,243/50.16


Lynn Bratchett (i): 7,027/21.62
Jim Meyers: 7,386/22.15


Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Sun, Nov 9, 2014

Look like we will have finality soon.

Can't wait for the final count and the push for recounts!

If Gilmore loses she can always have the Fire union pay recount costs!

Submitted by Austin Tam (not verified) on Sun, Nov 9, 2014

I have hope we can do this! Mayor Marie Gilmore, we can do this! Request a recount! I am in total support of you requesting for a recount, lets not regret never knowing if we had won it with the recount or not.

Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

I think a recount would be pointless but some are bound to insist anyway. As long as the taxpayers don't have to foot the bill, it can't hurt. I think we'd all like to know who won for sure so there won't be a bunch of disgruntled "she stole the election" comments against whoever is declared the winner.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Hey luc: Voters don't pay for a recount; the cost is borne by whoever requests it. Any voter can ask for one within five days of the results being certified. I've got more on the process in Friday's post: http://thealamedan.org/news/election-2014-gilmore-edges-closer-mayors-race

Submitted by Dan (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Recount will be pointless in a small population. Statistically with the current result and a small sample of votes the result will not deviate much from what it is now. But since Fire Dept have money, let them spend it. I believe its a done deal.

Submitted by Bill Rowen (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

For those who have never been through a recount, the fun is just beginning. Not only is a recount possible, but the results of a recount can be taken to court - and have been many times. The process involves looking at each and every ballot, under the scrutiny of both sides, and arguing about scuff marks, scratches, and so forth - not quite hanging chads, but close to it. These same items can then be (and have been) argued about in court. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Miss B (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

The count isn't wrong. A recount would be pointless. Look in the mirror - who's behind you? Hmm?

Submitted by Trixie Green (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Gilmore and cronies will hold on as long as they can so they can pay off favors. Already Russo has replaced one under-qualified fire chief with another one, a process called pension spiking. This amounts to negligence in a public safety position.

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Regardless of who wins, an outcome this close means there is no mandate either way--to change OR to maintain current polices. The winner will be the mayor of ALL of Alameda--the people who voted for her and those who did not. Governing well means talking all of the community's interests and competing priorities into account.

I think I would be happier if the results are verified though a recount, no matter who wins. It is important to have certainty--as much as it can be obtained, at least--in matters like election results. A complete recount of the 2000 presidential election results in Florida probably would have changed the outcome..and our nation's course.

Richard Bangert's picture
Submitted by Richard Bangert on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Jon, Florida in 2000 and Alameda County in 2014 are worlds apart. The procedures at the county registrar's office are well-honed. Very unlikely that ballots were misread, and one lone employee can't discard a ballot. As the registrar explained during a visit on Saturday, they treat ballots like currency.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Did you go Saturday, Richard? What was happening, and what did you learn?

Submitted by elliott gorelick (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

The registrar's website is definitely promising a count this evening.

Richard Bangert's picture
Submitted by Richard Bangert on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

I learned quite a bit on Saturday. It was slower than Tuesday through Friday, according to the escort that stayed with the handful of visitor/observers. This allowed the Registrar, Tim Dupuis, to make himself available for lots of questions as he made his rounds.

First thing I learned is – taking your vote by mail (VBM) ballot to a polling place on election day, or turning it in the day before, slows down the counting process. All of those ballots, this year over 80,000 VBM ballots turned in at polling places, have to first be opened, and then added to others that arrived on election day. That’s about a day’s worth of counting. Instead, it would speed the process up if procrastinators surrendered their ballots at a polling place in exchange for a new ballot and voted in a booth. Those ballots are immediately tabulated and all that’s left to do is upload the number later on election night.

While watching the employees through the windows running the four counting machines, I noticed in many of the stacks of ballots being processed that many voters only connect the arrows with a single line. But most people, me included, fill that space in with as much ink as possible. I asked Mr. Dupuis. He broke a little smile and said, “It says what to do right in the directions.” I said, “I never read those directions. How hard can it be to connect two lines.” He said the reason for a simple line is so as to minimize the chance of bleed through of the ink onto a voting area on the opposite side. He said they’ve put a lot of thought into how to avoid unintentional voting error, and even if there was bleed through, the voting choices are deliberately offset from front to back.

They use special ballot paper so that paper lint is minimized in the scanning machines.

I learned about what happens between the end of regular counting and the official certification. I did not know that they put the numbers of each and every voting precinct in a “bingo tumbler” and draw out a number equal to one percent of the total precincts. Because the requirement for certification is more complicated than that, they always end up drawing more than one percent. They then retrieve the sealed boxes of ballots for each of those precincts and hand count every ballot. The totals have to match exactly with the machine count, otherwise it’s more work – not exactly sure how much. Mr. Dupuis said they always match.

He said they also account for arrows that were not completely connected and for voters who do things like circle candidates instead of connecting arrows. Those ballots get kicked up into a special tray on the ballot counter for personal inspection. If they can determine a voter’s intent, then a duplicate with the arrows marked as appropriate would be created and then fed through the machine. They don’t type voting numbers into a computer. Every vote is tallied by machines that are about the size of a commercial copy machine.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Wow, thanks Richard. And Elliott, you're right - last I heard was 7:30, and I'm waiting on those results now. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Austin Tam (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

looks like no count tonight, the promise wasn't fulfilled!

Submitted by Rion Cassidy (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

I was told that they update the count every day at 5PM, and every day up until now, they HAVE posted changes at 5PM. Not today - the numbers haven't changed! Tomorrow is the holiday, so that doesn't explain it; what does? Maybe they just didn't find any more city of Alameda absentee ballots to count. Good news, at least from a counting point of view - this means the mayor's race is finalized.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Hey Rion and Austin: At this point we're apparently looking at 12:30 or 1 a.m. per ROV. I think their goal was to finish tonight since tomorrow is a holiday (and they will be off tomorrow).

Submitted by Juan (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

Gilmore has to request a recount. If Trish Spencer wins, I might as well leave. She's made clear Alameda does not welcome non-Alamedans. It's quite frightening to think actually.

Submitted by Darcy Morrison (not verified) on Mon, Nov 10, 2014

If Marie Gilmore demands a recount, maybe we'll find out who her anonymous backers are, that's at least one benefit. And in reality, a recount would be pointless, with more than a handful of ballots. I say that as a practical observation,, and I would say the same were the results the opposite. They're not going to find 120+ votes miscounted, out of 19,000+.

As for governing all of Alameda -- I'm not aware of anybody clamoring for sprawling developments and a bigger city budget. Maybe I'm missing something here. I don't know why anyone would feel left out.

Submitted by Darcy Morrison (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Election results as of 11/11/14, 1:39 am, with all provisional votes presumably counted, Trish Spencer is still winning:
NP - Trish Spencer 10443 50.15
NP - Marie Gilmore 10314 49.53
Write-in 66

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Hey all: Counting apparently still isn't over; ROV's website says they are taking today off and will continue tallying ballots Wednesday. Berkeleyside is reporting the same: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/11/11/berkeley-2014-elections-tune-in-h....

Submitted by Ariane (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Thank you Richard for your detailed description. Soon the final tally will be complete. I really hope Mayor Gilmore does not request a recount and insteads begins to work with Mayor-elect Spencer for a smooth transition. She did a lot of good things for Alameda but has recently lost touch with how the majority feels about certain issues, hence the results of this election. She should exit standing proud on what she accomplished, and not drag everyone through a fruitless recount.

Submitted by Jess Wonderin (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Hey Michele,
I notice there's 66 write-in votes for Mayor. I'm sure there were also some for Council. Any chance you can report who got those write-in votes ? I'm always curious, and I'm sure others are also. Apparently, in Oakland there were hundreds of write-ins for Einstein the dog.

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express has reported that Trish Spencer has unseated Mayor Gilmore after the latest count.......another declaration without the final final final tally........

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Hey Marvie and all: I just talked to someone who was in the room where counting was being done last night/this morning. It sounds like they have a few dozen bins of provisional "remakes" - basically, ballots elections workers have to redo by hand since the machines can't read them. So it sounds like a few thousand votes left to tally for all of Alameda County. Hoping to get official confirmation though it's a holiday, so not sure I will hear back. Counting begins again on Wednesday and it's anticipated it will finish then.

The long and short is, it's probably pretty much a lock that Trish Spencer is our new mayor, and we'll have a story with all the details on the final vote, her reaction and whether a recount may be coming after we get there. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Tony Brasunas (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Thanks for all the great work and comments here, Michele and Richard.

Submitted by Betsy Brazy (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

The "write-in" ballots count votes where the voter chose from someone who registered to be a write-in nominee.

It was a little disappointing to our family to learn there was an official process for write-ins, because one year we wrote in our uncle for EBMUD, so we could tease him about his "Roger for Mud" candidacy, and preferred band, "Muddy Waters."