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Barry Jantz

Steve Padilla shifts gears in Chula Vista City Council recount, now contesting disallowed ballots

Following the two-vote victory by Republican John McCann over Democrat Steve Padilla in the November Chula Vista City Council election — or at least the two-vote certified results — it was no surprise that Padilla supporters requested a recount and fronted the required deposit to get things going.

However, following three days of recounting, in the last hour the Registrar of Voters announced that process will stop. Instead, Padilla supporters are now challenging 269 ballots that were previously not counted at all, because they were rejected by the Registrar due to the voters not being eligible to cast a ballot.

In essence, the Padilla campaign would like those ballots included in the vote total and is challenging the Registrar’s decision to exclude the votes.

The 269 ballots will be reviewed Monday. It’s safe to say a few lawyers are now really earning their pay, including County Counsel.

Prior to today’s shift in strategy by Padilla’s team, the Registrar’s office started the recount process last Wednesday. Twenty-five precincts were initially requested to be re-checked.

Following two days of recounting, by Thursday evening there was no change in the vote tally, with about 20 precincts complete. Padilla supporters upped the number of precincts requested by 44, to 69 total out of the city’s 112 precincts.

But then on Friday, a “sea change,” with four total ballots revising the count. Uhhh, the net change being zero votes and McCann still up by two.

A total of 29 precincts are now recounted.

It’s important to remember that if any change in individual ballots along the way were to put Padilla in the lead, the entire city must still be recounted for it to mean anything. Otherwise, the count reverts to the certified results.

Yet, with more than one-quarter of the city recounted and only minor changes resulting, the Registrar’s initial tally appears to be accurate.

That’s substantiated by today’s tactical shift by Padilla partisans, who likely have determined a recount may be futile and are thus pinning their hopes on forcing excluded ballots into the pool of votes.

It remains to be seen whether “close” only does count in horseshoes and atom bombs.