Page One

Measure R Loses: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR By Slim Margin in Final Vote Count

Friday November 26, 2004

Final vote tallies posted from the Nov. 2 election show that despite significantly closing the margin in post-election counting, Berkeley’s medical marijuana Measure R has lost by 191 votes. The final totals were 25,167 to 24,976. 

When preliminary count ing ended on election night, the measure had trailed by 866 votes. 

The measure had proposed eliminating limits on the amounts of medical marijuana that could be possessed by patients or caregivers. In addition, it would have allowed existing dispensaries to move anywhere within the city’s retail zones. The City Council recently imposed a limit on pot dispensaries, allowing no more than the three currently operating in the city. 

The final vote tally also showed challenger Karen Hemphill losing to Berkele y School Director John Selawsky by 602 votes, 16,366 to 15,764, in the only other city race which remained undecided after election day. 

The final vote count this week had come as something of a surprise, as county election officials had earlier indicate d that a vote update would not be ready until next week. A spokesperson for the Registrar of Voters office said that they simply ran out of ballots to count. 

More than 28 percent of Berkeley’s votes were counted after preliminary tallies were released on election day. Since that time, county election officials have been counting paper ballots as well as absentee ballots turned into precincts on election day. Absentee ballots mailed into the registrar’s office at the Alameda Courthouse were counted on ele ction night. 

Alameda County Assistant Registrar of Voters Elaine Ginnold said that although her office has “no more votes to count,” the tally will not be considered official until Nov. 30, when the county will certify the vote. 

Degé Coutee, campaign manager for Measure R, said the group was considering its options for a recount, but expressed concern about the way the count was handled. 

“We’ve just been looking for some consistency in dealing with the county officials,” she said. “And that isn’t what we had, and that’s what was disconcerting, more than anything else. There hasn’t been much consistency from them regarding the time frame or how many votes they thought they had to count. We’ve been told for the past couple of days that they were going to need until Tuesday, and then—boom—they’re done.” 

Coutee had also said she was concerned that members of the campaign had been denied access to the vote count. 

“We just think it’s strange,” she said, “that’s all, and we think that this particular office has some problems so we’re going to look into it.”ä