The balance tipped further toward “no” today in Napa County’s close election on Measure C, after the fourth day of counting votes on proposed limits to removal of oaks. It is opposed by wine and agriculture trade groups.
While the gap remained close as of the latest county report at 4:20 p.m., votes against Measure C, called the watershed and oak woodland protection initiative, pulled in front by 313. That’s out of 28,473 ballots tallied on the measure so far.
“There are about 14,000 ballots still to count,” Registrar of Voters John Tuteur told the Business Journal earlier today. “We hope to knock them out by tomorrow night.”
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.)
“Yes” votes had led by 42 votes on election night June 5 and by 35 in the second tally June 8. Then the tally yesterday found a lead of 133 “yes” votes out of 21,639 counted.
It 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.
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 election
June 5 election night tally
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
June 8 tally
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
June 11 tally
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
June 12 tally
29,833 votes tallied from registered voters (39.13%)
14,393 votes against Measure C
14,080 votes for Measure C
28,473 votes total on Measure C
Advantage “no” by 313 votes
Source: Napa County Registrar of Voters