It's official – the vote totals released Wednesday as complete unofficial returns for the Feb. 7 Piedmont Municipal Election will stand.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office released final official results Friday afternoon after completing what's called a "1% tally," a sample of the ballots that are counted by hand. Totals for the unofficial and official results are identical.
The tally, a routine part of the certification process in all elections, took place Friday in a remote, cavernous room in the basement of the Alameda County Courthouse, 125 12th St., Oakland. Observers are issued a name tag at the Registrar's Office, also in the basement, and escorted to the room by a member of the registrar's staff. Along the way, you pass through the tunnel that's used to shepherd jailed prisoners to their court appearances.
For the tally, votes for each candidate and for Measure A were extracted separately from the computerized returns. In Piedmont's case, the tally was more than 1 percent of the vote. It included all 429 vote-by-mail ballots and 165 election day ballots from Precinct 281300, one of two precincts where voters cast their ballots at the Piedmont Veterans Memorial Building this year.
What precinct to tally is decided randomly, using a machine with a Ping-Pong ball. (Think lottery results.) That decision was made Thursday.
Inside the room, three county workers tallied the ballot sample in decidedly old-school fashion. One read off the results candidate by candidate, while two kept score with paper and pen. A fourth employee supervised the tally and noted on a whiteboard whether the results "balanced" computerized returns.
The process took about three hours.
City council candidate Tim Rood attended the tally, as did two representatives from Bob McBain's city council campaign. Rood finished only 26 votes behind McBain in Wednesday's unofficial results; McBain and top vote-getter Margaret Fujioka won the two open council seats, according to the official results.
Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald oversaw the tally.
If you check the results on the Registrar's website and wonder about "Over Votes" and "Under Votes," Macdonald's office provided an explanation.
An "over vote" is one where the voter marked too many candidates (for instance, four school board candidates for three open seats) or both "yes" and "no" on Measure A, the sewer tax surcharge. It invalidates that item but not the voter's entire ballot.
An "under vote" can occur when a voter chooses fewer than the maximum number of candidates (for instance, two school board candidates for the three open seats). It does not invalidate that item; the votes cast are counted. It's also an "under vote" when a voter skips an item or race entirely.