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Here’s what I learned from my visit to the Registrar of Voters office today:
(1) The vote is now all substantially counted. It’s all over but the clean up. There are a few more damaged ballots that need to be recopied and scanned, but just a few — probably under 30 in Fullerton, which is less than Jan Flory’s 32-vote lead over Travis Kiger. There is also a pile of ballots (which they might have gotten to after I left at 11 a.m.) of voters who don’t seem to live here, for which they’re making one more valiant effort to try to locate their residence in the county before disallowing them. I got the sense that virtually all are expected to be disallowed; they already did a decent job of trying to locate them the first time.
(2) The canvass of 1% of the vote is already well underway. They choose 1% of the vote (I believe at random) to do a full recount on their own, just to ensure that their procedures worked. Betting is: yes, as usual, they did. Final results should be posted by Wednesday at 5 p.m.; don’t expect many changes. (Since the day last week when Flory pulled ahead by 4 votes, an unforgettable margin of 12,670 to Kiger’s 12,666, she has added only 158 votes to his 130.)
(3) Apparently, there haven’t been challenges to any of the provisional ballots in the Fullerton Council race.
And here’s some stuff I already knew:
(4) There’s little point in a recount — though that doesn’t mean that one won’t happen. While we technically don’t know who won yet, we know who’d have to pay for the recount: supporters of Kiger (most likely meaning specifically Tony Bushala.) He’d get his money back if Kiger ended up reversing the result; otherwise it would go to fund County of Orange government services.
(5) If there were no challenges to provisionals, there apparently would have been no need to segregate the challenged provisional ballots. They’ve been opened, counted, and mixed with the others. There’s no longer an opportunity to suck them out of the pile and exclude those votes. That means that a recount would be solely over open and anonymous ballots that had already been cast — offering very little to fight about. A court is less likely to respond to a motion where the movant can cherry pick which ballots to exclude already knowing how those ballots were cast. Kiger’s only hope would be that the ROV somehow flat out miscounted.
(6) They did not likely miscount. It’s not yet time to declare victory, but it seems very likely that Jan Flory defeated Travis Kiger by about 0.1% of the vote. Finding out otherwise would be expensive.
If so, Fullerton will have a Republican majority, but one split between two factions: Bushalan Greg Sebourn and Bruce Whitaker lined up against Ackermanite Jennifer Fitzgerald. The Democratic minority will be moderates Doug Chaffee and Jan Flory. This will lead to some interesting votes. How might the sides break down? I see four coalitions to watch:
(1) On some issues, the Republicans may vote as a bloc against the Democrats. On the issue of Coyote Hills, though, Sebourn will have to be aware that he’s up for re-election in two years and Measure W failed miserably despite shovels full of Chevron money. (Flory will, I expect, be open to hear further plans from Chevron, but not the sort of property-rights ideologue that they would want to count on — not after Measure W barely broke 39%.)
(2) On issues involving the Glorious Libertarian Anti-Government Revolution, Tony Bushala’s faction will have substantial influence but not control. Expect to see a coalition of Chafee, Fitzgerald, and Flory.
(a) Chaffee and Flory are not going to refuse to listen to honest and reasonable criticisms on the water tax, on pensions, etc. — unlike the previous Ackermanite council majority — but neither they nor Fitzgerald are going to agree to tear down the temple of local government just for the sake of having done it. You will probably see (gasp!) some really good policy discussion at the meetings, and if Whitaker and Sebourn care about results it will not be simply ideological.
(b) The police and fire unions will survive — but they’ll be weaker. Chaffee and Flory may love the FPD, but they aren’t as likely as the former trio to let it run around entirely undisciplined. And, at a time when they may well need to sell their people on taking a bit less than they could have gotten from the old majority — with the alternative being the prospect that Bushalan Republicans will take control in two years or four — being a little weaker now may put them into a stronger position down the line. I would not be at all surprised to see a Citizen’s Police Commission along the lines of that supported by Jane Rands — one with teeth but probably not fangs. If Dan Hughes — we may as well start calling him “Captain” — is ready to be a reformer, he’ll embrace it and help shape it into a tool he can use to curb the excesses of some on his force. Once again: a serious misstep could lead to a Bushalan majority before too long — Fullerton has to get its house in order and keep it that way.
(3) Fitzgerald will get to be a deciding vote — but not likely one to push her own anti-libertarian conservative initiatives. Maybe she’ll pick up Sebourn on some public morals issues and one of the Democrats on some of the others, but the Old Days are gone.
(4) The rift to watch will be one between Whitaker and Sebourn. Whitaker just got re-elected and clearly has a strong base. Sebourn — not so much. Chaffee will probably run again, I’d think — Sebourn will have to decide how acceptable he’s willing to make himself to Democrats in 2014. Will he be scary to them — or tolerable? If he’s aiming for the latter, look for some votes where Whitaker and Fitzgerald are in the minority.
I’ll just end with one exchange from comments in FFFF and one quote from an earlier post of mine here:
#46 by Michael on November 14, 2012
#47 by Greg Diamond on November 14, 2012
And then there’s the advice I gave here just before the election:
[M]y position remains, from watching Tony and his blog, is that it is likely that there is a close race for the third seat on the Council between Kiger and Flory. You can vote for both, neither, one, or the other.
I hope that you’ll save one slot of your three to vote for Flory, to stop Kiger. But Tony is doing everything he can (and Vern can confirm, if he wants, as to whether he’s bending Vern’s ear in private) to keep you from voting for Flory because she — not Barry, not Jane, and not Kitty — is the most real threat to Kiger’s re-election. As usual, you vote in that race or you let others decide it for you. Tony wants you to take a pass on it.
Thank you to those who voted. And don’t worry — no one’s ever going to forget about what Tony can do if the upcoming Council doesn’t do it’s job. In that way, the balance of power in Fullerton is in quite good shape.
UPDATE, 11-20-11: On the next-to-last day of reporting, Flory picks up one vote and Kiger picks up three. The margin is now 30.