Votes: The Registrar’s office received thousands of mail ballots on or after election day and is in the process of counting them all. Courtesy photo

The LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office released a surprise batch of election results Thursday evening, totaling around 150,000 of the nearly 1 million ballots estimated to be outstanding.

It was difficult to count precisely how many of those ballots were cast by Santa Monica voters, but overall a few thousand ballot results appeared to have been added to the local tally, though most of them did little to move the needle on previous results.

Measure SMC, the $375 million college bond, was one beneficiary of additional votes. The latest results flipped the bond into the “yes” category with 55.2% of votes cast in favor and a threshold of 55% needed to be approved. Only about 2,500 votes separated the two sides and it was still too early to know how that race would end.

The latest update showed city council frontrunner Caroline Torosis maintaining her lead, now with 9,670 total votes. The other top vote-getters were fellow newcomer Jesse Zwick, now with 8,561 votes and incumbent Lana Negrete with 6,360 votes. 

In the latest counting, progressive candidate Natalya Zernitskaya surged up to fourth place at 5,797 votes, just 20 votes ahead of Change Slate candidate Armen Melkonians, who also moved up in rank. Close behind Melkonians was Ellis Rakin (5,714) rounding out the close field of frontrunners. Behind Raskin were Whitney Bain, Albin Gielicz, Troy Harris, Samantha Mota, Jonathan Mann and Arthur Jeon.

With a high percentage of ballots still estimated to be outstanding, the race was still too early to call, even with Torosis maintaining a consistent lead.

A similar story was unfolding in the school board race, with the four frontrunners maintaining their hold on the four open seats. Incumbents Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein were in the two top spots after the additional data was released Thursday, followed by Stacy Rouse and Alicia Mignano.

One of the few races that could be called was Measure CS, increasing citywide transient occupancy tax. As of the latest count, that measure had earned 14,766 “yes” votes to 5,550 “no” votes, making that race a win for the “yes” camp.

Both rent control measures on the ballot were virtually unmoved by the influx of new votes, with a little over 57% of voters approving limitations on rent control increases (capped at 3% annually) and strengthening the power of the Rent Control Board to freeze increases during declared states of emergency.

As for Measure HMP, imposing a business tax on licensed cannabis businesses, voters remained in favor at a rate of 66% “yes” to 33% “no.” 

The two potential property transfer tax measures were still close, although the smaller of the two, Measure DT, inched closer to the grave, maintaining just 34% of yes votes, with 66% of voters opposed. The other property transfer tax, Measure GS, was still eking out a narrow victory as of the latest count: 52% in favor, 48% opposed. Just 800 votes separated the two.

Other notable races also remained unchanged.

Current LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva continued to trail behind former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. Luna had 770,000 votes; Villanueva, 563,000.

Measure A, giving supervisors the ability to remove a sheriff “for cause,” held a strong lead with nearly 70% of votes cast in favor.

In the contest to replace Sheila Kuehl as Third District Supervisor, State Senator Bob Hertzberg and West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath remained in close competition, though Hertzberg remained narrowly ahead. Hertzberg was holding onto a slightly diminished lead with 50.28% of votes cast, leaving Horvath with 49.72% of votes. Just 1,646 votes separated the two candidates, in a district representing about 2 million residents.

Traci Park held her lead over Erin Darling for the LA City Council District 11 race, earning about 55% of votes to Darling’s 45%. The winner of that race will represent the City of Los Angeles council district surrounding Santa Monica on three sides.

For LA Mayor, Rick Caruso also maintained a narrow lead over Karen Bass — fewer than 3,000 votes separated the two candidates.

The latest data release brought the total countywide vote count to 1,452,192. In total, the Registrar’s Office anticipated a complete turnout of around 2,324,393, meaning there were still more than three-quarters of a million ballots expected to be processed, with the next update scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 15. 

The total number of votes cast in Santa Monica remained unavailable as the county continued tabulating ballots.

emily@smdp.com

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