CategoryLocal

Tallying error in Oakland, Calif., led to inaccurate election results

On December 28, 2022, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters acknowledged in a press release that the initial certified results were incorrect for the school director race in District 4 of the Oakland Unified School District in California.

Although Nick Resnick was certified as the winner of the race in November, Mike Hutchinson, who originally finished third, says he was later told by election officials that he won: “Without being cynical, I now believe in holiday miracles. So it was very shocking to wake up this morning and receive a phone call at 10:30 a.m. from the Alameda County head of elections informing me that I had actually won the election.” Hutchinson filed a petition in Alameda County Superior Court on December 29, 2022, asking a judge to overrule the prior certification and name him the official winner.

According to the press release from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters:

“The ROV learned that its RCV tally system was not configured properly for the November 2022 General Election. It should have been configured to advance ballots to the next ranking immediately when no candidate was selected for a particular round. … After reviewing the election data and applying the correct configuration, the ROV learned that only one outcome was affected: Oakland School Director, District 4, for the Oakland Unified School District. No other result for any RCV election in any jurisdiction was changed.”

California Ranked Choice Voting Coalition and FairVote, two organizations that supported the use of ranked-choice voting in California, discovered the error while auditing the election results. They found that county officials used the wrong method to tally votes that did not include a first choice candidate. Sean Dugar, consulting executive director of the California Ranked Choice Voting Coalition, said, “In Alameda County, the correct setting should have advanced the second choice to become the first choice … The algorithm and the election officials almost always get it right. In this instance, it was simply a button that was left checked in the menu option for the algorithm.”

Resnick’s attorney responded to the developments in a letter to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, saying, “We are not aware of any legal authority… which allows the registrar’s office to retabulate election results or take any other actions vis-a-vis the results of an election after it completes the official canvass and the results are certified by the local governing body.” 

As of January 2023, litigation was ongoing. Resnick was officially sworn into the position of District 4 Oakland school director on January 9, 2023.



Willie Wilson leads Chicago mayoral candidates in fundraising through 2022; Mayor Lori Lightfoot leads in spending

Willie Wilson has reported the most fundraising of all nine candidates running for mayor of Chicago, Illinois, on Feb. 28. Wilson reported raising $6.1 million. WTTW reported that $5 million was self-funded. Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent the most at $4.3 million. These figures include all reports filed through Dec. 31, 2022.

Four other candidates reported receipts of more than $1 million: Lightfoot ($4.5 million), former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas ($2.2 million), Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson ($1.8 million), and U.S. Rep. Jesus Garcia ($1.5 million).

Three other candidates reported spending more than $500,000: Wilson ($2.0 million), Vallas ($1.0 million), and Johnson ($578,000).

The other candidates in the election are Kambium Buckner, Ja’Mal Green, Sophia King, and Roderick Sawyer. If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the general election, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff on Apr. 4. The last two mayoral elections (2019 and 2015) resulted in runoffs.



Results of state executive endorsements in 2022 school board elections

Ballotpedia tracked 106 endorsements of school board candidates by state executive officials and candidates in 2022. Endorsements included official statements, appearances at campaign rallies, and direct participation in campaign ads and materials. The state executives and candidates to make endorsements were:

  • Arizona: Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) and Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Shiry Sapir (R)
  • California: Attorney general candidate Eric Early (R)
  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (D), and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R)
  • Maryland: Gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox (R)

DeSantis was the only executive whose full slate of candidates won. Across all 106 endorsements, candidates had a 56.6% success rate.



Four top-100 mayoral offices changed party control in 2022

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population held mayoral elections in 2022. Mayoral offices changed partisan control in four of those races, resulting in no net change in the number of offices held by Republicans and Democrats. Once all mayors elected in 2022 are sworn in, Democrats will hold 62 top-100 mayoral offices, Republicans will hold 26, independents will hold three, and nonpartisan mayors will hold seven. One current mayor and one mayor-elect have not responded to Ballotpedia’s inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

Mayoral offices in the following cities flipped as a result of the 2022 elections:

  • In Anaheim, California, Ashleigh Aitken (D) defeated Acting Mayor Trevor O’Neil (R) and two other candidates on Nov. 8. Former mayor Harry Sidhu (R) resigned in May 2022.
  • In Chula Vista, California, City Councilman John McCann (R) defeated Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) in the election to succeed term-limited mayor Mary Salas (D) on Nov. 8.
  • In Henderson, Nevada, Michelle Romero (R) was elected to succeed incumbent Debra March (D), who ran for lieutenant governor of Nevada. Romero won the June 14 primary outright with 76% of the vote.
  • In North Las Vegas, Nevada, City Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown (D) defeated state Sen. Patricia Spearman (D) in the election to succeed outgoing mayor John J. Lee (R) on Nov. 8. Lee was first elected mayor in 2013 as a Democrat and switched parties in 2021.

In Laredo, Texas, Victor Treviño defeated Mercurio Martinez III in the Dec. 17 runoff to succeed outgoing mayor Pete Saenz (I). Ballotpedia has not been able to determine Treviño’s partisan affiliation.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.



Eleven candidates running for mayor of Chicago in 2023

Eleven candidates are running for mayor of Chicago, Illinois, in the February 28, 2023, general election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will take place on April 4, 2023. The filing deadline for this election was November 28, 2022.

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot, Jesus Garcia, and Brandon Johnson have received the most media attention and endorsements. The other candidates are Kambium Buckner, Frederick Collins, Ja’Mal Green, Sophia King, Johnny Logalbo, Roderick Sawyer, Paul Vallas, and Willie Wilson.

Lightfoot was elected mayor in 2019. Lightfoot won 17.5% of the vote in a 14-candidate field in the general election. In the runoff, she defeated Toni Preckwinkle 74% to 26%. Lightfoot has campaigned on her record as mayor, saying she “led the city through the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic with tough, fair leadership — all while keeping or overdelivering on campaign promises.” U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D), U.S. Reps. Danny K. Davis (D), Robin Kelly (D), and Bobby Rush (D), two city aldermen, and the LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed Lightfoot. Lightfoot is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Garcia was elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat in 2018. Before serving in Congress, he was a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Illinois Senate, and the Chicago City Council. Garcia said his time at multiple levels of government would help him serve as mayor. “Mark my words: my values and my commitment to build a better, more inclusive Chicago has never waivered. I’m the only candidate in the race with the experience of serving the city at every level of government,” he said. Four members of the state legislature, two city aldermen, and three railroad unions endorsed Garcia.

Johnson was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners as a Democrat in 2018. He was a teacher with Chicago Public Schools and an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Johnson highlighted his experience in education and said he is “the only candidate who has been a leader in our communities in the fights for fully funded public schools, affordable housing, green jobs and access to mental health care.” U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez (D), two city aldermen, the CTU, and Service Employees International Union endorsed Johnson.

Although elections are officially nonpartisan, candidates are typically affiliated with one of the major political parties. Among the candidates, there are eight affiliated with the Democratic Party, one affiliated with the Republican Party, and two independents. The last Republican mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, left office in 1931.



Watson defeats Israel in Austin mayoral runoff election

Photo of the skyline of Austin, Texas

Kirk Watson defeated Celia Israel in the December 13, 2022, nonpartisan general runoff election for mayor of Austin, Texas. Watson received 50.4% of the vote to Israel’s 49.6%.

According to KUT Public Media‘s Audrey McGlinchy, “Tuesday’s race was tight. Israel beat out Watson by just 17 votes among Travis County voters, which represent the vast majority of Austin. But in Williamson and Hays counties, where just a fraction of Austinites live, voters went overwhelmingly for Watson, ultimately helping him clinch the race. He won by the smallest margin in an Austin mayoral race since at least the late 1960s, according to election records.”

Israel and Watson, who have both served in the state legislature as Democrats, were the top-two vote-getters in the Nov. 8, 2022, general election. Israel received 40% of the vote and Watson received 35% of the vote. To win, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote. Incumbent Stephen Adler did not run for re-election.

Watson served in the Texas State Senate, representing District 14 as a Democrat, from 2007 to 2020. He served as the mayor of Austin from 1997 to 2001. Watson ran his record as mayor, saying, “I have a proven record of success in getting big things done for Austin and we’re in a point in time we’re no longer becoming a big city — we’re a big city and we need to do big things.” Watson’s campaign focused on housing affordability. Watson proposed changing the city’s development review process to make it faster to build more housing and temporarily halving development fees. Watson’s housing policy plan includes a plank to allow City Council members to propose district-specific housing policies: “What my plan does is it says ‘let’s ask the districts what they want to do in order to get us more housing,’ not to block off any housing.” Watson has also campaigned on expanding childcare options and improving transportation.

Israel serves in the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 50 as a Democrat. She assumed office in 2014. Israel said, “I have a reputation for having an open door and open mind, and I have the experience and tenacious leadership to help us find common ground at every opportunity.” Israel made housing affordability a central focus of her campaign. Israel said the city should use its unutilized public space to build more housing: “Austin could be doing more with its public space. It owns 6,000 tracts of land. That could be teacher housing, 911 operator housing, police housing.” Israel also campaigned on providing rental relief to renters, reducing parking requirements and increasing density, and making it easier for people to build accessory dwelling units on their property. Israel’s campaign has also focused on transportation and mobility, including pushing to “create bus lanes, and build protected bike lanes and sidewalks so everyone has a safe, affordable, and pollution-free option of moving around Austin.”

Israel and Watson disagreed on how to spend a $250 million housing bond voters approved on November 8, 2022. Israel said the city should “partner with a nonprofit who’s going to work to take our unhoused off the streets first and put them in a dignified place.” Watson said, “So one of my priorities would be to work with the private industry, the private developers as they’re developing their projects, bring in that public money, so we would be able to together be able to buy down those units.”

The winner of the 2022 election will serve a two-year term, instead of the traditional four. In 2021, Austin voters approved Proposition D, a measure aligning mayoral elections with presidential election years. Following the 2024 election, the mayor will serve a four-year term.

Austin has a Democratic mayor. As of December 2022, 64 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 24 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, seven identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.

The city of Austin utilizes a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city’s primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives.



Texas holding local runoff elections on December 13

Two cities in Texas are holding nonpartisan general runoff elections on December 13, 2022. In Corpus Christi, three city council seats will be on the ballot. Three city council seats will also be on the ballot in Austin, along with the mayor. The runoff elections were required after no candidates received a majority of votes in the general elections that were held on November 8.

Austin Mayor Stephen Adler did not file to run for re-election in 2022. Six candidates were on the general election ballot to replace him. Celia Israel and Kirk Watson received the most votes in that election, earning them both a spot in the runoff.

The District 3, 5, and 9 seats on the Austin City Council are also holding runoffs. The general elections for those three seats each had at least six candidates competing. Daniela Silva and Jose Velasquez are competing in the District 3 runoff. The District 5 runoff includes Ryan Alter and Stephanie Bazan, and Linda Guerrero and Zohaib Qadri advanced to the District 9 runoff.

In Corpus Christi, the District 1, 2, and 3 seats on the city council are holding runoffs. All three seats had three candidates competing in the general election. Billy Lerma and Everett Roy are running in the District 1 runoff, Sylvia Campos and Mark Scott are competing in the District 2 runoff, and Roland Barrera and Eric J. Cantu advanced to the District 3 runoff.

Austin is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 11th-largest city in the United States. Corpus Christi is the eighth-largest city in Texas and the 58th-largest city in the United States.

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Israel, Watson running in Dec. 13 runoff for mayor of Austin

Celia Israel and Kirk Watson are running in the Dec. 13 nonpartisan general runoff election for mayor of Austin, Texas. Israel and Watson, who have both served in the state legislature as Democrats, were the top two vote-getters in the Nov. 8 general election. Israel received 40% of the vote and Watson received 35% of the vote. To win, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote.

Incumbent Stephen Adler did not run for re-election.

Israel has represented District 50 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2014, while Watson represented District 14 in the Texas Senate between 2007 and 2020. Watson earlier served as mayor of Austin between 1997 and 2001.

According to The Texas Tribune, “While both have acknowledged the magnitude of the crisis and have diagnosed similar issues, they’re approaching it through different philosophies: Israel is looking to enact sweeping reforms to alleviate Austin’s housing shortage and Watson is trying to balance the need for more housing with neighborhood interests.”

Israel says she would provide monetary assistance to renters while reducing parking requirements and increasing density to encourage development. Watson says he supports modifying the development review process to encourage new projects, temporarily halving fees related to development, and giving individual city council members authority to propose housing plans for their districts.

Israel and Watson disagree on how to spend a $250 million housing bond voters approved on Nov. 2, 2022. Israel said the city should “partner with a nonprofit who’s going to work to take our unhoused off the streets first and put them in a dignified place.” Watson said, “So one of my priorities would be to work with the private industry, the private developers as they’re developing their projects, bring in that public money, so we would be able to together be able to buy down those units.” 

The winner of the 2022 election will serve a two-year term instead of the typical four. In 2021, Austin voters approved Proposition D, a measure that aligns mayoral elections with presidential election years. Following the 2024 election, the mayor will serve a four-year term.

Austin has a Democratic mayor. As of December 2022, 62 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 25 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, seven identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, one mayor’s affiliation is unknown, and one office is vacant. 

The city of Austin utilizes a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city’s primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives.



Voters approved 10, rejected 4 local measures in San Francisco

Voters in San Francisco decided on 14 local ballot measures on Nov. 8. Ten were approved and four were defeated.

Four were citizen initiatives, of which, one was approved and three were defeated. The city’s board of supervisors referred 10 of the measures to the ballot, of which 9 were approved and one was defeated.

The San Francisco Department of Elections certified election results on December 1, 2022. Of San Francisco’s 497,561 registered voters, ballots were cast by 310,071 voters, meaning voter turnout was 62.32%.

Some specific measures included:

  1. Proposition H, which was approved, changed elections for mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney, and treasurer from odd-numbered years to November of presidential election years. It also changed the signature requirements for city ballot initiatives from 5% of votes cast for the mayor to 2% of registered voters.
  2. Proposition L, which was approved, continues an existing one-half cent sales tax through 2053 for transportation funding and allows the Transportation Authority to issue up to $1.91 billion in bonds for transportation projects. A two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required for approval of this measure.
  3. Proposition M, which was approved, allows the city to tax owners of vacant residential units in buildings with three or more units if the units have been vacant for more than 182 days in a year. The rate would be between $2,500–5,000 per vacant unit, continuing through 2053, and the revenue would be dedicated to rent subsidies and certain housing entities.

On some topics, voters decided measures with opposing provisions. For example, Proposition D, which was defeated, would have expedited the approval of certain housing projects and removed the Board of Supervisors’ approval as a requirement for certain housing projects using city property or city financing. Proposition E, which was approved, expedited the approval of certain housing projects and continued requiring the Board of Supervisors’ approval for affordable housing projects using city property or city financing. 

Voters also decided to keep JFK Drive closed to cars and reserved for recreational use after competing measures appeared on the ballot.

San Francisco adopted the initiative and referendum process in 1898, more than a decade before California authorized it statewide. Ballot measures can be put before San Francisco voters in one of three ways: (1) the city council may refer them, (2) through a signature petition drive for an initiative, which proposes a new law, or (3) via a referendum, which puts a law that the city council passed before voters.

San Francisco voters decided on seven local measures on June 7, 2022, approving five and rejecting two. In November 2020, voters approved 12 of the 13 measures that appeared on the ballot. From 2010 through 2022, San Francisco voters decided on 158 local ballot measures—an average of 12.1 per year, including odd and even-numbered election years. Voters approved 109 (69%) and defeated 49 (31%).



Ohio school board passes resolution opposing state’s gender identity policy

The Toledo Public School District (TPS) in Ohio voted unanimously to pass a resolution on October 10, 2022, that rejects the Ohio State Board of Education’s (SBOE) resolution on gender identity policies in public schools. 

SBOE member Brendan Shea introduced the SBOE’s resolution on September 20, 2022, in opposition to the Biden administration’s (D) guidance aiming to expand Title IX’s discrimination protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Titled Resolution To Support Parents, Schools, And Districts In Rejecting Harmful, Coercive, And Burdensome Gender Identity Policies, the SBOE’s resolution includes the following provisions:

  1. Ask Ohio lawmakers to assist districts that resist Title IX changes with stopgap funding
  2. Require schools to notify parents if a student is questioning gender identity
  3. Support lawsuits against the Department of Agriculture that require schools to accept Title IX changes in order to get federal nutritional assistance
  4. Ask the state superintendent to issue a letter to all public schools directing them to view the proposed Title IX changes as unenforceable

When introducing the resolution last month, Shea stated, “It’s my sincere hope that the state Board of Education will pass this resolution to oppose the radical, and I would argue illegal, changes to Title IX.” The Ohio SBOE voted 12-7 on October 13, 2022, to send the measure to the executive committee, which has signaled that it will table the issue, according to local news outlet WHIO.

The TPS board members voted to reject the SBOE proposal. TPS Board Member Chris Varwig said, “We’re about student-centered decision-making. Whether that is curriculum, athletics, art. We’re going to focus on what matters to students and families and provide equitable education for all students.”

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