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    Alameda County Registrar of Voters Announces Counting Error For Oakland School Board Race

    By Evan Symon, California Globe

    The Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced on Thursday that the ranked-choice voting system used by the County was not properly configured for the Fourth District Oakland Unified School District Board race in November, resulting in a new winner for the race and increased doubts over the county’s voting method.

    In a statement, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters noted that “The ROV learned that its RCV tally system was not configured properly for the November 2022 General Election.  It should have been configured to advance ballots to the next ranking immediately when no candidate was selected for a particular round.  This means that if no candidate was selected in the first round on the ballot, then the second-round ranking would count as the first-round ranking, the third-round ranking would count as the second round ranking, and so on.  For the November 2022 General Election, the setting on the County’s equipment counted the RCV ballots in the manner in which the ballot was completed, meaning no vote was registered for those ballots in the first round of counting because those voters did not identify a valid candidate in a particular rank on the ballot.

    “Once it became of aware of the issue, the ROV immediately investigated it.  The ROV worked with its vendor to figure out the source of the issue and to resolve it.  After reviewing the election data and applying the correct configuration, the ROV learned that only one outcome was affected: Oakland School Director, District 4, for the Oakland Unified School District.  No other result for any RCV election in any jurisdiction was changed.”

    As a result, Nick Resnick, who had been certified the winner earlier this month, was told on Thursday that he had actually lost. Instead, his opponent, Mike Hutchinson, was told that he actually had won the race. Candidates were also told to seek legal counsel if they wish to contest them.

    A change in votes

    The entire race has now been thrown up in the air, as the new results go against the certified results, with candidates being told now that a judge would have to overturn the certified results in order to have the now-winning candidate be certified instead.

    “Without being cynical, I now believe in holiday miracles. So it was very shocking to wake up this morning and receive a phone call at 10:30 a.m. from the Alameda County head of elections informing me that I had actually won the election,” said Hutchinson. “This came from FairVote, who is a group that has worked on ranked-choice voting nationally. And they did an audit that kind of led to this, I’ve now discovered, but this didn’t come from me as a candidate or my campaign. I need to get some legal advice, but my understanding is I need a judge to overturn the certification.”

    Resnick was also concerned on Friday, noting that “I have the same questions as everyone else.”

    With the school board election now in chaos weeks after it was supposed to be over with, and lingering concern over how the Mayoral vote was tallied, many in Oakland are now calling for an end of ranked-choice voting. For several election cycles now, the concern over ranked choice voting, a system that allows voters to vote for up to three candidates, but must rank them under a first, second, or third vote, with the end votes then being tallied up, has grown considerably.

    “Now ranked-choice is literally screwing up entire races,” explained Bay area pollster Greg Kim to the Globe on Thursday. “People here absolutely hate it, and this might be the election that changes it. A lot of people were upset how different candidates this election lost out despite receiving  more 1st choice votes than the others, like the Mayoral election, and now we have this one where the Registrar of Voters really messed up. They said it was the only one affected, but right now a lot of people are doubting them.

    “They’re supposed to be the ones who can give us the pure vote totals, yet they got it wrong in 2022. Badly. And it is hurting a lot of people now as a result. We’re going to see even more people against the system now, and that doesn’t bode well for Oakland.”

    As of Thursday evening, candidates in the election are currently looking into how the race will be decided now following the Registrar’s announcement.


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