BART sales tax measure just shy of passing

November 5, 2008 7:01:57 PM PST
Measure B in Santa Clara is still up in the air. It would raise the local sales tax by an eighth of a cent, to run BART, if it's extended into the South Bay. But it is losing by less than half of one percent.

Election workers managed to power through about 8,000 absentee ballots today, but the percentages did not budge. Given in this economy, the backers of Measure B say that in 66 percent of the voters to approve a tax is really quite phenomenal, but at this hour, it's not quite enough.

Lorenzo James was proud to vote for Barack Obama and Measure B in Santa Clara County.

"It would stop a lot of traffic you know what I'm saying in the morning, because they could jump on the BART," said James.

Measure B is a one eighth of a cent sales tax that would pay the operating costs to extend BART from Fremont to San Jose. The 30-year tax requires a two-thirds vote and on the day after the election, the outcome is a cliffhanger.

"The challenge is that we are four tenths of one percent short but we think there are tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted," said Carl Guardino from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

On Wednesday morning, there were actually 134,000 absentee or vote-by-mail ballots and another 30,000 provisional ballots still to be counted. Election workers are quickly processing those votes; the bulk of which require just a little more time and attention.

"We have to signature check each and every envelope. They have to match the signature that we have on file and the voter registration card on the voter," said Registrar of Voters Spokesperson Elma Rosas.

The Registrar of Voters does have up to 28 days to certify the election, but in this economy, Measure B opponents are confident the tax increase will not get the two-thirds majority it needs.

They want an upgraded transportation system that in part uses Caltrain instead of BART to connect more pockets of the county.

"You don't need another tax and you don't need to buy old technology when there's something better on the table for us," said Measure B opponent Mark Brodsky.

BART supporters say there's is a proven and efficient system for commuters and one that's long overdue for the South Bay.

"There's no doubt that if we don't get Measure B approved, it will be a delay in the project and that will probably increase the cots but it's very popular and people want it and we'll continue to work to deliver what the people have told us they want to do," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

A spokesperson from the Elections Department told ABC7 News that he hopes most of the absentee ballots counted by 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The provisional ballots could take a week or so, or maybe longer. But if the absentee ballots aren't enough to shift these numbers, then it is unlikely that the provisional ballots would deliver a Measure B victory.

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