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Preliminary results on election day show a few surprises

Three cars in a roundabout at dusk. A bus shelter on one side and a ballot dropbox on the other, attended by a tall woman.
Last-minute voters at the county building dropbox on June 7.

Incumbents mostly far ahead; Hutchins in a tight race; James breaks 5%

June 8, 2022 — The last voter of the night cast her ballot with ten seconds to spare. She was heavily pregnant with a baby on her hip and a firm grasp on another child’s hand as they approached the dropbox in the parking lot outside the county administrative building. She spent the journey back to the car explaining the fundamentals of democracy.

Preliminary voting results, with no precincts reporting yet, showed no surprises at the state level. The incumbents were defeating their challengers handily.

Locally, incumbent Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams each have a comfortable lead. Williams is ahead of challenger John Redding with over 85% of 759 votes counted in the fifth district. In the third,Haschak is leading challenger Clay Romero with 77% of 692 votes so far.

But incumbent County Superintendent of Schools Michelle Hutchins is in a tight race with challenger Nicole Glentzer, behind by almost four percentage points. That’s a difference of 130 votes just a few minutes after 8:00 last night.

Measure M, the proposed bond in the Anderson Valley School District, is winning with almost 65% of the 116 votes counted so far.

And Trent James, the write-in candidate for sheriff’s office, broke the 5% threshold predicted by some election watchers, with 5.16%, or 138 votes, to incumbent Matt Kendall’s 2,536 votes.

Assessor clerk recorder Katrina Bartolomie took a few minutes to talk about the first report of the evening, in the lull before the first precincts brought in their ballots. She expects to have updated numbers in a week and a half to two weeks, “hopefully by the end of June,” she predicted. The county has thirty days to certify the election.

There was the usual election-day confusion about ballots that had been lost, forgotten, or never made it to the intended recipient, “so we were able to help them with that, and direct them to the right place,” Bartolomie reported. “We had an active day today, but it wasn’t too busy.”

A few minutes after eight, one voter, who arrived too late to turn in his ballot, “kind of cussed out” an election worker, but, “Everyone else seemed happy,” Bartolomie said. She had not received any calls from people who were confused about the write-in candidate. “I think that the people that wanted to write in the write-in candidate have been doing so,” she observed.

There is no voter ID law in California, and Mendocino is an all mail-in county, with physical polling places available for voters who want to cast a provisional ballot or need to register the same day. Voters who want a provisional ballot verify their identity by answering questions. The county uses Hart voting machines, and Bartolomie said that, while her office gets questions from the public, there is very little of the hostility that has been directed at elections officials in many parts of the US. “I think that’s one thing we can chalk up to living in a small rural county,” she concluded.