In 2010, California lawmakers approved legislation meant to reduce the incentive for expensive and contentious ballot recounts of the sort looming in the exceedingly close race for second place in the state controller’s primary. But the law went dormant at the end of last year and will have no bearing on the controller’s contest between Betty Yee and John A. Pérez. In a statement Tuesday, the Pérez campaign said it is conducting a review to “determine whether a recount is warranted. After nearly a month of counting votes and a vote margin of just 1/100th of one percent, out of more than 4 million votes cast, nobody would like to the see this process completed more than we would,” the statement said. “Since this is one of closest statewide elections in the history of California, we have an obligation to review and ensure that every vote cast is accurately counted. During our review, we will also determine whether a recount is warranted.”
The 2010 law invited counties to conduct “postcanvass risk-limiting audits” – statistical sampling to verify election results – instead of the 1 percent sampling of ballots that’s been the norm since the 1960’s.
The audits “have the potential to reduce the need for election recounts because the audit model begins with a small sample and gradually escalates – potentially to a full hand count – if significant differences persist between the machine and manual tally results,” read a committee analysis of Assembly Bill 2023, which was sponsored by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.