After an early lead in “yes” votes for Napa County’s controversial Measure C, which would limit removal of oaks and is opposed by wine and agriculture trade groups, the balance tipped to “no” after the third day of counting.
The county Registrar of Voters office reported the latest tally Monday just after 4 p.m. At that point, votes against Measure C, called the watershed and oak woodland protection initiative, jumped to a lead of 133 votes out of 21,639 counted. “Yes” votes had led by 42 votes on election night June 5 and by 35 in the second tally June 8.
“There are about 14,000 ballots still to count,” Registrar of Voters John Tuteur told the Business Journal today, during a fourth day of counting. “We hope to knock them out by tomorrow night.”
June 5 was Napa County’s first all vote-by-mail election, so validating and counting of ballots is proceeding as they arrive. Turnout was higher than expected, nearly 30 percent by the latest count, and many were mailed in the days just before, Tuteur said. So only 40 percent of the vote was counted on election night. The election must be certified by June 25.
Measure C was written to amend the Napa County general plan and zoning regulations to establish buffer zones around creeks and apply additional regulations on removal of oak trees and oak woodlands. (Read what supporters and opponents see as the stakes in this election and possible next steps.)
The tally tomorrow is anticipated to cover 95 percent of ballots received, Tuteur said. The next step is certification of the vote, which includes checking registration rolls that were updated just before the election and inspecting 750–1,000 damaged ballots.
“We had cat urine on one, and a dog chewed on another,” Tuteur said. Other types of damage include tearing, repairs with adhesive tape, and coffee spills.
One of the certification steps is a manual tally of about 1,200 ballots from two randomly selected precincts, Tuteur said. One worker reads votes on a ballot, and two workers write down tallies of the results.
Progress of Measure C vote
15,091 votes tallied from registered voters (19.8% turnout)
7,191 votes for Measure C
7,149 votes against Measure C
14,340 votes total on Measure C
Advantage “yes” by 42 votes
16,773 registered voters (22%)
7,998 votes for Measure C
7,963 votes against Measure C
15,961 votes total on Measure C
Advantage “yes” by 35 votes
22,707 votes tallied from registered voters (29.79%)
10,886 votes against Measure C
10,753 votes for Measure C
21,639 votes total on Measure C
Advantage “no” by 133 votes
About 14,000 votes left to count June 12 and 13
Source: Napa County Registrar of Voters