50 Ballots Left: A Narrow Nguyen Win (By 15) Over Broadwater; Measure ‘J’ Could Still Be Far Closer Than That


This highly exaggerates the proportion of votes remaining, unless the piece of toast this came from was the size of the Honda Center.

Just 50 paper ballots, of the 640,353 ballots cast from all of OC, still remain uncounted.  (Our county’s final turnout number was 45.0%.  Not good, but not so shabby.)  It’s all over but the shouting (and the 1% canvass and certification and any recounts, if anyone wants to spend the money.)  (No counting will take place today.)  Let’s look at our close races, in order of largest to smallest margin.

Melissa Fox and Gail Eastman each came up short by a bit over 200 votes in the City Council races in Irvine and Anaheim.  Measure N stalled at a deficit of 123, giving it 49.9% of the vote.  Jodi Payne in Dana Point ended up down by 61.  The wave of provisional ballots that I believed would sweep Jay Humphrey past Jim Righeimer in Costa Mesa never appeared, leaving a deficit of 47 votes.  Bao Nguyen is up by 15 for Garden Grove Mayor; Carol Moore is up by 16 for the second spot on the Laguna Woods City Council.  But the closest race — ludicrously close, and one that may not be over for another week — is for Measure J, the North Orange County Community College District Bond Measure.

There’s not much more to say right now about those results, except that provisional ballots did next to nothing in the past couple of days, which comes as a bit of a surprise.  So let’s just focus on Measure J, which is crazy crazy close.  I love this sort of race the way that space scientists love new photos of distant moons and planets and stars.

As Chris Nguyen pointed out on Friday, the NOCCCD, which voted on Measure J, includes a handful of precincts from LA County — 14 from La Habra Heights; one precinct each in Whittier and unincorporated La Mirada.  (Chris did not mention that Measure I, from the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, also crosses county lines into La Habra Heights — although at 59% it’s too far ahead for the LA vote to matter.  I think that we should face the facts: La Habra Heights should be ceded to Orange County.  That’s what the Puente Hills decree.)  So, the OC results are insufficient — which matters because La Habra Heights is relatively cooler, by about 4 points, to such measures.

Fair enough — with LA having updated on Friday, here are the current tabulations:

In OC, Measure J is at 55.10316900001%. (I’m prepared to round that off to 55.103169%.)  Our raw numbers are:

J-North Orange County Community College District, Fullerton/Cypress Colleges Bond Measure
Completed Precincts: 522 of 522
Vote Count Percentage
Bonds – Yes 82,733 55.1%
Bonds – No 67,409 44.9%

In LA, the report as of Nov. 14 is:

Measure J Votes Percent
YES 1,946 51.06%
NO 1,865 48.94%

Registration 11,729
Precincts Reporting* 16
Total Precincts 16
% Precincts Reporting 100

So, adding those together, we’re at:


… and that, Mr. Chris Nguyen, is 55.0031503121%.  It is currently passing.

But boy, is it close.  Nine more “no” votes would put it at 54.9999350489%.

Let’s imagine that there are 100 more “post-Election Day” votes out there to be counted.  What would happen?

If 100 more votes came in from LA County, with the same 51% approval as exists now, it would put the percentage at 55.0005517582%.

But if those 100 more votes with only 49% approval, it would put the percentage at 54.9992535037%.

Jeepers.  What if those 100 more votes came in at 50%? How about this: 54.9999026309%!

What if only 50 more votes came in at 50% approval?  Then it would pass with 55.0015259443%!

So, if there’s 50% support in any new votes in LA County, how many can come in before it fails?

With 90 more votes, split 50-50, it passes with 55.0002272093%.

With 96 more votes, split 50-50, it passes with 55.0000324572%.

But with 98 more votes, split 50-50, it fails with 54.9999675432%.

Of course, we don’t know how many more votes will come in from LA County, let alone their percentage. I’m not even sure who could (or would) ask for a recount.  (Can the school district use its money for that, if it’s narrowly behind?  I’ll bet that the local teacher’s unions would.  As for opponents … hmmmm.)

I just love close elections!  It’s like a throw that just gets to first base at almost the exact time that the runner touches the bag.  Except here, instead of instant replay, we get not-at-all-instant recount.

Then again — those 50 paper ballots left?  We’d expect about 13 of them to be within the NOCCCD — and about 12 of them to cast a vote on this measure.  Those remaining crumbs could easily determine this race.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)