Local voters chose two new members and returned one incumbent to the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District governing board at the polls last Tuesday, Nov. 6.
In state and national races, SoHum followed the larger trends, electing all incumbent Democrats to office. SoHum’s votes on the 11 state propositions echoed state trends even more closely with one notable exception - nearly two-thirds of local voters called for labeling of genetically-modified foods, a proposition that lost 47 percent to 53 percent statewide. (See related stories in this issue.)
In the only local contest, SoHum voters had the opportunity to fill three seats on the SHCHD board.
Retired firefighter David Ordonez received the most votes, winning one of the four-year seats with 1,069 votes (26.95 percent). Incumbent Corinne Stromstad was a close second with 1,051 votes (26.49 percent).
Beth Bennett-Allen came in third with 981 votes, and Karen Ruth fourth with 851 votes.
In this race 1,547 voters - approximately 28 percent - "undervoted," meaning that although they were entitled to vote for two candidates, they voted only for one - or none.
In the race for the two-year seat, challenger Judi Gonzales overcame appointed incumbent Clif Anderson, winning 1,238 votes (51.95 percent) to Anderson’s 1,137 votes (47.71 percent). 377 voters chose neither candidate.
Approximately 69 percent of Humboldt’s 80,143 registered voters came to the polls or mailed in ballots, according to county registrar of voters Carolyn Crnich. This turnout was lower than turnout for the previous presidential election in 2008, when slightly less than 80% of 80,226 registered voters cast their ballots.
By Wednesday morning Humboldt County’s hardworking elections office staff had counted all the ballots cast at precincts and all the vote-by-mail ballots received prior to Nov. 2, the Friday before election.
Approximately 4,900 vote-by-mail ballots received after Nov. 2 or hand-delivered to polling places, as well as about 2,600 provisional ballots remain to be verified and counted county-wide, Crnich said.
Provisional ballots are issued by poll workers to persons on the vote-by-mail list who lost, did not receive, or forgot their ballots, as well as to Humboldt citizens voting outside their precincts and in any case where the person’s registration is questioned.
SoHum poll workers noted an unusually high number of provisional ballots in this election. At the Healy Senior Center in Redway, many provisional ballots were issued to people who said they were registered to vote by mail but never received their ballots.
The provisional ballots will now be researched by county elections staff to make certain the voters are registered in Humboldt County. Persons who vote by provisional ballot place their completed ballots in an envelope similar to a vote-by-mail envelope and seal it for secrecy.
The voter’s signatures on the provisional ballot envelopes must match the signature on file, and the voter’s address shown on the ballot envelope must match the address on their registration.
After the provisional voter’s right to vote in Humboldt is verified, elections staff remove the ballots from the envelopes and review them to be sure the voter has voted only for those candidates, propositions, and measures that he or she is qualified to vote for.
For example, a person who lives in Fortuna but who asks for a provisional ballot in Redway would receive the same ballot Redway residents get, but since he lives outside the healthcare district, any votes he casts for SHCHD candidates can’t be counted. In that case, elections staff "remakes" the ballot so it is correct.
When all the provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots are counted, the election is certified. "I hope and pray this will be done by Thanksgiving," Crnich said.
Although approximately 7,500 votes remain uncounted in Humboldt County at this time, Crnich does not expect any upsets in SoHum.
Even the closest race in the SHCHD board contest, with Gonzales 101 votes ahead of Anderson, is unlikely to change when the remaining votes are counted. Crnich said those 101 votes equal an almost four percent lead in a small voting pool, which is actually a larger lead than in many other contests county-wide.
The only race in the county likely to be resolved by provisional or late mail ballots is the Ferndale mayoral race, where the two candidates, Stu Titus and Ken Waller, are dead even at 287 votes each, or 48.15 percent of total votes. (22 votes were cast for unqualified write-ins.)
For all Humboldt County election results, go to the election website, co.humboldt.ca.us/election, click on "Election Results" from the menu at left, and then choose the election results you want by year on the results page.
When the election is certified, precinct-by-precinct results will also be available.