Supporters of Newport Beach City Council candidate Tim Stoaks decided to end the recount they requested in his 36-vote November election loss to incumbent Marshall “Duffy” Duffield after their ballot challenges went nowhere.
Newport activist Susan Skinner, one of the recount’s chief organizers, said in an email Monday night that after a review earlier in the day of contested ballots with Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, recount backers had “made no real headway in the ballot count” and opted not to continue it.
“There is no meaningful path to victory after today’s session,” Skinner said. “Even with this slimmest of margins, we are not finding errors sufficient to make a change in the outcome of this race.”
Kelley said he reviewed 27 ballot challenges and rejected them all, upholding the original tally. He said the challenges came from both Stoaks and Duffield’s sides.
Duffield, who represents District 3, already had been sworn in Dec. 11 for his second term, based on election results the registrar of voters office certified Nov. 30. That count showed Duffield with 18,458 votes and Stoaks with 18,422.
“I’d like to thank everyone who supported the campaign and recount effort,” Stoaks said Tuesday. “It’s now time to move on and enjoy the holidays.”
The recount organizers suspended the effort Friday, two days after it began, pending Monday’s analysis. Skinner said proponents hoped the review would reverse many of the challenged votes to give Stoaks a “fighting chance.”
Phil Greer, an attorney backing the recount, said the hair’s-breadth margin in the Stoaks-Duffield race, along with the defeat of District 6 incumbent Scott Peotter, showed that voters had spoken for change.
“Tim ran a brilliant campaign, and to come within 36 votes out of 36,000 against a well-established, well-entrenched, well-funded [opponent] shows a lot of class and integrity,” Greer said.
The registrar’s office reported in its last recount update Thursday evening that it had reviewed more than 6,300 ballots and that the tallies for both candidates had not changed.
Skinner said last week that the cost of the recount, which must be borne by those who requested it, was about $18,000, including the registrar’s preparation for the recount, two days of counting and attorney fees. The registrar charges daily fees while counting is going on.
The cost already was approaching the $25,000 Skinner said the organizers raised for the recount from donations and pledges.
This article was originally published at 7:45 a.m. and was later updated with additional information and comments.