Final Election Day results in Humboldt County showed some races nearly settled and others still in contention, but the county elections office won’t “have a handle” on the number of ballots left needed to count until Thursday afternoon.
“We’re in the process of organizing everything that has been returned from the polling locations from (Tuesday),” Kelly Sanders, the county clerk recorder, told the Times-Standard in an email.
Through the end of elections night, mail-in ballots had been counted and 87 of 144 precincts had reported. But until the elections office confirms how many ballots still need to be processed, even the races with wide margins aren’t settled with 100 percent certainty, though there’s good reason for certain candidates to be confident.
Susan Seaman is on a path to being Eureka’s next mayor, winning 44.38 percent of the votes in the latest report. For Eureka city council, Leslie Castellano, Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel hold steady leads.
Measure O, a countywide sales tax for emergency services, has received more than 71 percent yes votes, putting it in a safe position. Measure K, which would bolster sanctuary protections for the county’s undocumented immigrants, now has 51.56 percent voter approval after trailing in the first two set of results.
In Arcata, Sofia Pereira and Brett Watson appear comfortably on the way to defending their city council seats, with challenger Valerie Rose-Campbell in their rearview. A measure to protect the city’s controversial statue of William McKinley from removal — Measure M — is poised to fail with under 38 percent approval.
Yurok runoff to yield new vice chair
Yurok tribal voters in October did not establish a clear winner for either a new vice chair or an Orick District representative on the tribal council, resulting in a runoff election Wednesday to determine both of those seats.
Vice chair candidates Susan Masten and Frankie Joe Myers were the top vote-getters in the Oct. 10 election, but each secured only 23.65 percent of the tribal vote. For the Orick District, Sherri Provolt fell just short of winning more than 50 percent voter support, so she and Laura White Woods will compete in the runoff.
In the same Oct. 10 election, Joseph James became the new chair of the tribe, winning a hair over 50 percent. James ran with Myers on the same ticket, the two pushing Myers’ 18 years of experience working for the tribe in various departments, including social services, fisheries and public safety.
Masten campaigned on promises of opening low-interest loans for tribal housing and advocating for elders with disabilities.
Days after the October election, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Native American Finance Officers Association. She was commended for her work in advocating for better federal policy and representation for Native American women.
Results from the runoff election are expected to become clear late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, said Matt Mais, a tribe spokesperson.
Trump hat deemed ‘electioneering’ material
A minor controversy in Trinidad over a local man’s attempt to enter a polling place with a red “Make America Great Again” hat on top of his head prompted coverage from local broadcast news stations, though a city official said the incident was handled quickly.
“It wasn’t as big as the hype suggests,” said Gabe Adams, the city clerk. “The whole thing was over in 10 minutes.”
Poll workers stopped the man from entering, pointing to a sign that indicates a “no electioneering” policy near the voting booths. Electioneering refers to any sort of rooting or noticeable support for an election campaign.
The man refused to remove his hat, citing free speech rights. He also said the hat, commonly recognized as the symbol of President Donald Trump, could not be considered electioneering since Trump was not up for an election.
Adams noted poll workers are trained based on statewide election rules, which disallow electioneering. The city of Trinidad doesn’t assign any rules itself.
“If someone comes in and ticks them off and argues, they’ll just call the police,” he said. To his knowledge, police never actually arrived, though he later heard of some chatter on police scanner traffic.
Ultimately, Adams arranged for the two sides to reach a compromise.
“I stood in the threshold and the man reached into the vicinity to hand me his ballot,” Adams said. “And I handed it to the poll worker.”
That seemed to resolve the conflict, he said.
Local worries voting machine ‘stopped working’
A woman said she and others at a McKinleyville polling location were not able to immediately cast their ballots because a voting machine broke down — an incident the county elections office later downplayed.
Donna Wilson, 72, said she attempted to vote in person shortly before noon Tuesday at the Catholic Church of Christ the King in McKinleyville, but the poll’s voting machine wouldn’t accept her ballot.
“I’m a left-handed person,” she said, “and twice in my voting career, the ink from my pen has gotten on my hand and caused a smudge on my ballot.”
She said poll workers shoved her ballot, as well as others’, into a box off to the side. Inside the box, she said, there were already a whole pile of ballots.
“They didn’t do a lot to reassure me that my ballot won’t be bounced,” she said. After calling the elections office twice, she said, an official called her to take down her name and address to ensure her vote would be counted.
Kelly Sanders, the county clerk recorder, said in an email there were no reported “machine breakdowns” in McKinleyville.
“A few instances occurred that were easily resolved,” she said. These instances, she said, included a machine running out of paper, which prompted workers to replace the paper roll; a paper jam, which was quickly resolved; and an electronic scanning machine that was accidentally unplugged and needed to be rebooted.
Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.