Stanislaus County leaders have dismissed the balance owed for the recount of the Riverbank mayoral election of 2012. County officials entered an agreement last month with former mayor Virginia Madueño to dismiss a remaining balance of $3,250, with neither side admitting fault. After Madueño lost by 53 votes to Richard O’Brien last year, one of her supporters asked for the Dec. 10 recount, which was stopped after five hours because the results were not changing. Madueño was stunned when county elections sent her campaign an invoice six weeks later showing a $7,817 balance owed in addition to the $2,400 deposit paid the day of the recount. The Registrar of Voters’ total charges for counting about 500 ballots was $10,217, or $20 per ballot. The person who requests a recount is expected to pay for it, but the invoiced costs tend to vary from county to county in California. And critics have suggested that county registrars arbitrarily impose recount charges.
In March, County Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan said Madueño’s campaign was billed for actual costs of preparing for and conducting the recount. After some debate in the media, the county made a concession in April and waived the costs for Lundrigan’s time, reducing the balance about $4,000.
Madueño’s camp continued to maintain the charges were excessive, and the unpaid bill was turned over to the treasurer-tax collector’s revenue recovery division for collection. County Counsel John Doering said Madueño made two payments totaling $625 in August “under protest,” which reserved her right to recover the payments through a court ruling.
Rather than being subject to a lawsuit, “we felt it was easier to resolve it,” and a settlement deal was presented to county supervisors, Doering said. The county accepted the $3,024 (the $2,400 deposit, plus Madueño’s two checks) as payment in full for the recount.