Local Politics

Sunday, Nov 11 2012 02:00 PM

Kern expects to announce new vote totals Monday

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Kern County Elections Division officials expect to announce the results of about 30,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Monday following a full weekend of work counting.

That count should include all of the remaining vote-by-mail ballots Kern County has received, said county elections chief Karen Rhea.

The results could make a difference in a number of small local races. But it also promises to be a decisive announcement in the tight 32nd Assembly District race.

Elections officials estimate 9,365 of those ballots were cast in the 32nd District.

If those votes follow the same trend as the 29,000 Kern County votes already cast in the 32nd, a Californian analysis shows, Democrat Rudy Salas can expect to greatly extend his lead over Republican Pedro Rios.

Salas' lead could jump from its current 268 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 votes if he continues to claim nearly 60 percent of all Kern County votes, based on The Californian's analysis of Kern County numbers.

But even after Monday's count, Rhea said, some uncertainty will still hang over the race.

There are an additional 1,500 provisional ballots left to be counted in Kings County and, according to Kings County election officials, those votes will take more than a week to finish.

When those vote results come in, it is expected that Salas' lead will narrow a bit, but not disappear. In voting so far, Rios has been winning in Kings County just as strongly as Salas has been winning in Kern County.

But the final tally won't be known until Kern County also counts its provisional ballots.

Rhea said that 4,822 of the provisional ballots were cast in precincts in the 32nd District. That doesn't mean they were votes from the 32nd Assembly District, she said.. Elections workers will review each ballot in the coming days, checking its validity before counting its votes.

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