BART extension measure holds slim lead

November 18, 2008 6:59:20 PM PST
A nail-biting vote tally in Santa Clara County has taken a turn that now shows measure b to extend BART to San Jose may pass. It is a razor thin margin of 66.67 percent -- just 12 votes more than the two-thirds needed in favor of a one-eighth cent sales tax increase.

Provisional ballots hold the final verdict on BART's future in the South Bay.

A one-eighth cent sales tax increase would pay for the operating costs for BART's 16-mile extension to San Jose. Out of a total of more than 600,000 votes, Measure B has passed its two-thirds threshold by just 12 votes.

BART supporters including San Jose's mayor are thrilled.

"The kind of margin we are talking about we're in the thousands of a percentage point margin of victory but that's good enough. One vote is all we need," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Election workers are still busy counting an additional 9,800 provisional ballots. Measure B opponents are suspicious those ballots are trending about 70 percent in favor of BART.

"We have some questions about the number of provisional ballots and we're definitely scrutinizing the count," said Measure B opponent Margaret Okuzumi.

Provisional ballots often come from people who have moved or are confused about where to vote. Analysts say that's not unusual among new or young voters.

San Jose State University political science professor Terry Christensen says if BART passes, some of the credit goes to Barack Obama.

"With that high turnout you get more transit users, more young voters, more new voters people who are much more inclined to vote yes on BART," said Professor Christensen.

We'll get updated numbers late Wednesday and by late Friday the Registrar says 98 percent of the ballots will be counted.

Certified election results on December 2nd will include a manual recount of one percent of the precinct ballots to ensure electronic voting machines worked properly.

"Due to the recent mandate by the California Secretary of state, those costs are absorbed by the county," said Assistant Registrar of Voters Elaine Larson.

If the BART vote remains close and either side wants a more through recount, they would have to pay for that process and there are no commitments yet.

"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," said Okuzumi.

With voter turnout in Santa Clara County at 85 percent, a recount could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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