In our digital era, “snail mail” is often used to describe the analog method of sending letters but as this year’s election results drag on into the weekend, it’s those aptly named vote by [snail] mail ballots causing all the slowdown. 

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RRCC)’s office has already counted the in-person vote and all ballots received before election day but due to a surge of voters dropping off their mail ballots on Nov. 8 and additional mail ballots arriving after election day, officials are still working through a large backlog of votes with about 35 percent of the total still outstanding.  

Officials released another 80,000 ballot results on Friday evening, resulting in just about 1,000 more Santa Monica votes entering the fray. Every vote counts, but the 1,000 extra local ballots thrown into the mix Friday night were immaterial to the results as they stood as of latest reporting.

The City Council race still had Caroline Torosis in the lead, followed by Jesse Zwick and Lana Negrete rounding out the top three spots. About 600 votes behind Negrete was Natalya Zernitskaya, followed closely behind by Armen Melkonians and then Ellis Raskin. That order was unchanged since the previous tally update.

The same was true in virtually all other Santa Monica-specific races. On the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, Laurie Lieberman, Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Stacy Rouse and Alicia Mignano held their places, followed by Esther Hickman, Angela DiGaetano, Miles Warner and Keith Coleman. For Santa Monica Community College District Board, Sion Roy, Nancy Greenstein, Tom Peters, Barry Snell and Patrick Acosta II also maintained their ranks.

Across city limits in Venice, Traci Park held her lead over Erin Darling by roughly the same percentage point, with Park around 55% and Darling closer to 45%.

Measure SMC, the $375 million school bond, was holding its narrow lead with 55.3% “yes” votes and a 55% threshold to pass. 

Measure DT, a property transfer tax of $25 per $1,000 in assessed value over $8 million, was still tanking with just under 34% approval. Its counterpart, Measure GS, maintained a slim lead of just under 52%. GS would establish a $56 property transfer tax per $1,000 in assessed value for properties over $8 million, with funds earmarked for schools, homelessness and affordable housing.

An increase to Santa Monica’s transient occupancy tax continued to sail through with almost 73% approval from local voters. The cannabis business tax, Measure HMP, also seemed destined to pass, maintaining a solid approval of nearly 67%.

Results were still far too close to call in the hotly contested Third District Supervisor race, but candidates Lindsey Horvath and Bob Hertzberg swapped positions for the first time, with Horvath now taking a narrow lead over Hertzberg in the contest to take the seat left vacant by current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. 

It was a similar story in the LA City mayoral contest, with Karen Bass jumping ahead of Rick Caruso by just over 4,000 votes. The two remained within one half of one percentage point, with more than three quarters of a million ballots estimated to still be outstanding countywide.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s goal of remaining in his seat seemed to be slipping further away. In the latest update, Villanueva tallied up 20,000 more votes, but challenger Robert Luna, who was already up more than 200,000 votes, added 50,000 more to his column.

The RRCC continued to deviate from its scheduled data release dates. While the county office initially pledged to provide updates on Tuesdays and Fridays as needed through the first week of December when final tabulations were certified, the office so far has instead been trickling results out, with releases on Thursday, Nov. 10, before the planned Friday release. On Friday evening, the RRCC announced it would be delivering more updates in the evenings of Saturday, Nov. 12, and again on Monday, Nov. 14, in apparent disregard for its published schedule.

Visit smdp.com for updated vote counts and election information. 

emily@smdp.com

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