Costa, Scrivner extend leads in Kern election tally

Costa, Scrivner extend leads in Kern election tally »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Thousands of ballots still have to be counted, but candidates in two tight races have extended their leads. According to tallies released by the Kern County Election Department on Monday night, Zack Scrivner edged farther ahead in his race against Steve Perez, and Jim Costa gained more votes in the Kern Portion of the 20th Congressional District.

Kern released results of additional ballots counted after election day that included votes counted over the week-end and about 1,300 mail-in ballots counted on Monday. But, Kern still has yet to tabulate a lot of "provisional" and "challenged" ballots.

"I think we've got about 10,000 to count," Auditor Controller Ann Barnett told Eyewitness News. Barnett released the numbers Monday at about 5:15 p.m. The two close and high-profile races are getting the most attention.

The Democrat Costa is pitted against Republican Andy Vidak in the Congressional district that takes in part of Kern and part of Fresno Counties, and all of Kings County. Vidak has a big lead in Kings County, but Costa has wide margin in Fresno County and Kern.

As of Monday night, in Kern County Costa now has 13,907 votes to 8,871 for Vidak. That's a lead of 5,036 votes for Costa in Kern.

But, Fresno County still has up to 70,000 ballots to count. Clerk Victor Salazar told Eyewitness News on Monday he couldn't estimate how many of that total could be ballots in the 20th District.

In the Second District Kern County Supervisors race, Scrivner has 16,371 votes to 16,041 for Steve Perez. That makes Scrivner ahead by 330 votes as of Monday night, edging up from the 191-vote margin he had as of last Friday.

On Monday, election crews worked to duplicate ballots that could not go through the counting machines. Eyewitness News discovered the elections department put 15 of their regular staff on that task, supplementing the temporary workers hired for the election.

At each of eight tables, one worker read a ballot out loud, another listened to double-check, a third worker copied the information to a fresh ballot, and the final worker watched for accuracy. The original ballot was marked "invalid," and the newly-marked ballot could then be run through to be counted.

A batch of observers watched the whole process, many of those representing either Costa or Vidak.

Barnett said next, Kern has to process about 7,000 "provisional" ballots that have to be checked to verify whether a voter was eligible to vote, and then some 3,000 "challenged" ballots. For those, signatures have to be checked against signatures on file.

How soon will more election results come out? Barnett said that depends on how fast the "provisional" process moves along.

"We'll do the count when it's reasonable to count," Barnett said. "We're not going to do a lot of little-bitty updates. So, just when it's reasonable." As of Monday night, she said it could "be a while."

But, the results for the 20th Congressional District also include Fresno County. So, when could a winner finally be declared?

"It may be contingent on Fresno," Barnett said. "We've given the numbers, the report that shows what is still outstanding, and there's really not that much left for us."

By law, all counties must have their results final within 28 days of the election. That means the final numbers for this election have to be ready by November 30.