Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney inched his way toward re-election as updated counts today showed him with a slim 548-vote lead over opponent and GOP nominee David Harmer.
But the outcome is still a long way from settled.
The gap represents a tiny 0.3 percentage points of the 176,108 votes counted in the 11th Congressional District, which remains one of nine House races nationwide still too close to call. The four county elections offices within the 11th District are plowing through the uncounted mail-in and provisional ballots but thousands of votes remain to be processed.
The fiercely contested race also had its first day in court today, as Republicans sought to force Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir to allow their election-count observers to challenge the veracity of signatures on vote-by-mail envelopes.
A Contra Costa County judicial commissioner declined to sign a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the signature verification process but kicked the dispute into Superior Court, where it is set for a full hearing Monday morning.
Weir said state law specifically allows pollworkers to challenge a voter’s right to cast a ballot and those who present proof before the election that an individual who was issued a vote-by-mail ballot is ineligible to vote. Election count observers, he said, are permitted only to question whether workers are following established procedures.
Every voter whose eligibility comes into question has the right to answer the allegation, Weir said, and allowing casual observers to challenge a voter after the fact is “not going to happen,” Weir said. “If a judge orders it, then we’ll have to see what we do next.”
GOP attorney Charles Bell argued that observation alone cannot ensure election accuracy. He told the court that Weir has failed to provide adequate access to the signature-verification process and observers should have the right to challenge a signature that doesn’t appear to match the original signature in the county’s voter registration database.
I also thought readers might be interested in the county-by-county breakdowns as of this afternoon:
ALAMEDA COUNTY (15.5 percent of District 11 voters)
- Harmer: 42.6 percent, 11,950 votes
- McNerney: 57.4 percent, 16,086 votes
- GAP: 14.8 percent, or 4,136 votes, in McNerney’s favor
CONTRA COSTA (24.6 percent of District 11 voters)
- Harmer: 50.4 percent, 24,070 votes
- McNerney: 49.6 percent, 23,718 percent
- GAP: 0.7 points, or 352 votes, in Harmer’s favor
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (53.9 percent of District 11 voters)
- Harmer: 52.5 percent, 45,958 votes
- McNerney: 47.5 percent, 41,612 votes
- GAP: 5 points, or 4,346 votes, in Harmer’s favor
SANTA CLARA COUNTY (5.9 percent of District 11 voters)
- Harmer: 45.6 percent, 5,802 votes
- McNerney: 54 percent, 6,912 votes
- GAP: 8.7 points, or 1,110 votes, in McNerney’s favor
- Harmer: 49.8 percent, of 87,780 votes
- McNerney: 50.2 percent, or 88,328 votes
- GAP: 0.3 percent, or 548 votes, in McNerney’s favor