Madueño files last-minute request for Riverbank recount

12/04/2012 5:49 PM

12/04/2012 11:53 PM

With one minute to spare before Tuesday's deadline, Virginia Madueño asked for a recount of the votes that cost her a new term as mayor.

Madueño's campaign hand-delivered the request at 4:59 p.m., said Lee Lundrigan, clerk-recorder and registrar of voters for Stanislaus County.

"My staff was getting ready to walk out the door," Lundrigan said. "They were getting ready to lock the door. I did not know they were coming."

Councilman Richard O'Brien won the mayoral race with 3,098 votes to 3,045 for Madueño, according to a final tally of the Nov. 6 election that Lundrigan released Thursday.

State law allows a losing candidate to get a recount if the request is hand-delivered within five days of the final count. That person would have to reimburse the county for the cost if the recount does not reverse the outcome.

Madueño could not be reached for comment Tuesday on why she asked for the recount or why the request came literally at the last minute.

O'Brien had a 295-vote lead on election night, but it shrank to 53 as other ballots were counted over the next 23 days. These included mail ballots received on or close to Election Day, provisional ballots needing verification of the voters' status, and others.

O'Brien confident totals are correct

O'Brien said he expects the results to stand because Lundrigan, seeing that the race was close, did hand and machine recounts on her own even before getting Madueño's request.

"I'm confident that the registrar of voters has done her job, and we'll continue on," he said.

Lundrigan said she spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning of last week on the recount for Riverbank mayor and the even-

closer Patterson City Council race. A staff member watched the process, she said.

The recount sought by Madueño must start within seven days of the request and will be open to the public, Lundrigan said. It would be Friday at the earliest and would take at least six hours per day until complete, she said.

The one-page letter from the Madueño campaign asks to "examine all ballots, whether voted or not, and any other relevant material," as allowed by state law.

Dozens of ballots not counted

Lundrigan said there were 73 provisional ballots in Riverbank that were not counted for various reasons. Of these, 63 of the supposed voters were not registered, five already had voted, three had no signature and two were signature mismatches.

There were some vote-by-mails that were not counted for similar reasons, said Lundrigan, who did not have an exact number.

"I've already told (Madueño) this," Lundrigan said.

She said the recount will be the first her staff has completed in her 10 years on the job. In 2008, backers of a countywide sales tax measure for roads asked for a recount but abandoned it after one day's counting showed that their loss would not be reversed.

It was the second close race between O'Brien and Madueño. When they ran in 2009 to fill a mayoral vacancy, O'Brien had a 457-424 lead on election night but lost after other ballots were counted in ensuing days.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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