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Final count in L.A. election due Tuesday after three-week delay

Jose Gardea, candidate for the City Council District 1 seat, greets supporters at his election night party March 5. Gardea advanced to a runoff against Gil Cedillo.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Three weeks after the Los Angeles primary election, the city will announce the final vote count Tuesday in races for mayor, City Council and other local offices.

For candidates in an Eastside council race, the final tally for the primary could make the difference between outright victory or a runoff on May 21. The initial result found former state Sen. Gil Cedillo falling less than a percentage point below the majority that a candidate needs to avoid a runoff.

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If Cedillo fails to exceed 50% in the final count, his runoff opponent will be Jose Gardea, chief of staff to Councilman Ed Reyes.

The city will also release the final results for the Los Angeles mayor’s race. The preliminary count found Councilman Eric Garcetti leading with 33%, followed by Controller Wendy Greuel at 29%.

The city counted more than 320,000 votes on election night, but has spent the last three weeks verifying the validity of more than 90,000 other ballots in preparation for the final tally on Tuesday. Many of them are provisional ballots or absentee ballots that voters dropped off at a polling place on election day.

Candidates in close races and their advisors have criticized the city clerk’s office for providing no updates on the vote count over the last three weeks, saying it left them uncertain of whether they were facing runoff campaigns.

“It’s outrageous,” said Gardea consultant Parke Skelton. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Holly Wolcott, executive officer of the clerk’s office, said the city has never provided updates on its vote counts between election night and the day the final tally is complete. In local elections run by Los Angeles County, the county routinely provides such updates.

With a surge this year in voters casting ballots by mail, Wolcott said, the city wound up with more ballots to count after election day than ever before, which added to the uncertainty over the results. Wolcott indicated the city might change its procedures in future elections to address the problem.

“It is something that we’re willing to look at in the future,” Wolcott said.

ALSO:

Change coming to L.A. council

Labor pours millions into L.A. races

Federation of Labor helps four win L.A. City Council seats

Twitter: @finneganlatimes

michael.finnegan@latimes.com


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