Good news for fans of delayed gratification — or delayed disappointment, as the case may be: Not even half the ballots cast in Humboldt County this primary election have been counted yet, and the final results might not be known for up to a month.
Humboldt County Elections Manager Juan Pablo Cervantes tells the Outpost that it’s difficult to say just how long it will take to tally, verify and report the whopping 20,417 ballots that remain unprocessed. That’s more than the 14,844 Humboldt County ballots accounted for in the unofficial results from yesterday.
Final results must be certified by July 7, according to Cervantes. In the meantime, he said, the Elections Office will continue to post results each Friday.
Granted, the outcomes of most local races were already evident by the wee hours election night. (Congrats to Sheriff William Honsal, Superintendent of Schools Michael Davies-Hughes, Assessor Howard Lahaie and Treasurer-Tax Collector Amy Christensen, all of whom ran unopposed.)
Other races can be categorized as nearly certain, barring some nigh unimaginable change in fortunes. We’re talking, here, about Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone, who ended election night up by more than 22 percentage points over challenger Larry Doss; as well as Cheryl Dillingham, who accumulated more than three times the vote total of incumbent Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez; Deputy District Attorney Stacy Eads, who built a massive lead over nearest competitor Adrian Kamada; and Alex Stillman, a grand dame of Arcata politics of yore who appears bound for a return to City Council.
Granted, with so many ballots uncounted, there’s certainly a mathematical possibility that any or all of those races could yet be flipped upside down, but don’t count on it. There’s no plausible reason to expect the remaining votes will break in a significantly different pattern than what we saw yesterday, especially in this post-COVID era of universal mail-in ballots.
Still, there are a few unanswered questions! Chief among them, arguably, is whether Natalie Arroyo can remain above 50 percent of the vote in the Fourth District and thereby avoid a November runoff with Mike Newman for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
A potentially bad omen for Arroyo on that front: The votes actually trended in the opposite direction as results trickled in last night.
Arroyo started out strong, garnering 53 percent of the mail-in votes from the Fourth District, compared to Newman’s 32.3 percent. But the (much smaller number of) ballots turned in on Election Day broke in Newman’s favor, 46.2 percent to Arroyo’s 36.9 percent. (Arroyo’s colleague on the Eureka City Council Kim Bergel came in third.) If that trend continues, Arroyo and Newman can look forward to another five months of campaigning.
The race to become the county’s next clerk-recorder/registrar of voters is also up in the air. Cervantes,
who on election night was in the awkward position of tallying ballots that included his own name, is currently trailing fellow challenger Tiffany Hunt-Nielsen, 40.66 percent to Nielsen’s 46.29 percent, with Benjamin Hershberger nabbing the other 13 percent and change. [CORRECTION: Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders tells the Outpost, “Juan is not involved in the scanning or tabulation of ballots for the June 7th election. I recruited our former Clerk, Recorder & Registrar of Voters, Carolyn Crnich, to assist me with scanning and tabulation of ballots for this election.”]
You can probably expect a runoff here, though Nielsen’s lead grew a bit as last night wore on, so it’s entirely possible that she could accumulate enough in the coming weeks to reach the 50 percent-plus-one needed to win outright. So could Cervantes, for that matter!
Measure J, which would implement a 12 percent hotel tax within the county’s unincorporated areas, has a commanding chance at passing with 63.28 percent support thus far. Measure K, which would re-up the county’s $1 vehicle license fee for abandoned vehicle abatement, has nearly 80 percent support. We’ll go ahead and call that: It passed.
As for the rest? Settle back and stay tuned.