How Many Uncounted Votes Remain in Supe 4 Race?

Can Steve Vargas still leapfrog Doug Chaffee into the runoff for 4th Supervisor?

The Voice of OC has published a story you can find in our sidebar wondering whether Brea Councilman Steve Vargas can still surpass incumbent Doug Chaffee to take the second spot against Sunny Park in the autumn runoff for the 4th District Supervisor’s race. This sent me into a panic — not because I had any doubts about the answer, which is “no” — but because I didn’t want to see the admirable folks at the VOC making an elementary error.

Then things got weird.

Here is a link to the always-helpful “What’s Left to Count” page on the Registrar of Voters site. It’s very clear: only 2,179 ballots remain to be counted in Orange County. This number may still increase by a handful as the last absentee ballots cast by Tuesday June 7 wend their way through the postal system — but we’re talking single-digits. Of those, only some will be in the 4th district; of the ones in the 4th district, only some will have voted in this race; of the ones who voted in the race, only some will have voted for Vargas. Vargas is simply not going to make up the current 547-vote deficit when fewer than 547 votes remain to be counted in the district.

Nick Gerda is a good and careful reporter, so I tried to contact him priavtely last night to ask him to spike the story. It used to be that one could email the VOC’s reporters individually, but I can no longer find that on their site. (I emailed him at an address where we had previously corresponded years ago, but I don’t know that it’s still active.) And then I stumbled upon the weird thing: the Secretary of State’s figures as to Unprocessed Ballots in Orange County do not match the County’s figures.

Orange | 50,383 | 0 |1,220 | 105 | 51,708 | 06/15/22 05:02:06 PM

The State’s report, which was updated at the time that the OC ROV released its latest results, indicates that Orange County has over 50,000 votes yet to count — almost surely not enough al allow Vargas to pass Chaffee, given the factors noted above, but enough to justify Gerda’s article — which from what I can tell is simply flatly untrue.

I can’t recall seeing this sort of majour discrepancy between the county and state “unprocessed ballot” figures before, but I’m inclined to trust the county’s figures. So, while in the overwhelming number of cases I will tell our readers to trust the VOC‘s reporting — on which I routinely and extensively rely in my own writing here — this time I’m going to tell you to ignore the premise of the story. Doug Chaffee will face Sunny Park in the runoff, and (as reported here days ago) Vargas’s strong final push to overtake him simply doesn’t have the numbers it needs. (It has some nice quotes from the DPOC Chair trashing Chaffee’s performance in office, though — so I guess it’s worth reading for that.)

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.)