Vot­ers run into some prob­lems in Lodi

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By John Bays NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

Two can­di­dates for the Lodi Uni­fied School District Board of Ed­u­ca­tion were left off of sev­eral hun­dred bal­lots in Tues­day’s elec­tion, leav­ing one can­di­date feel­ing up­set.

San Joaquin County Reg­is­trar of Vot­ers Melinda Dubroff said on Wed­nes­day that as many as 545 vot­ers did not see the race be­tween in­cum­bent Ron He­berle and chal­lenger Ra­mon Yepez for the Lodi School Board Area 5 seat on their bal­lots, both mail-in and in per­son.

“I am highly hurt and dis­ap­pointed that in 2018, more than 500 peo­ple did not have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­er­cise their right to vote for me as the can­di­date for (Area 5 trustee),” Yepez said in a Wed­nes­day state­ment to the News-Sentinel.

Dubroff said re­place­ment bal­lots were sent out, and that her staff will con­duct a deeper in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine the cause of the cler­i­cal er­ror and the ex­tent of its im­pact on the race.

Al­though Yepez said in his state­ment that he be­lieved the race be­tween He­berle and him­self was omit­ted from the bal­lots due to voter sup­pres­sion, and that the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers who re­ceived the omit­ted bal­lots were mi­nor­ity vot­ers, no ev­i­dence was found to sup­port his claim.

“I would like to know how this er­ror has com­pro­mised the in­tegrity and out­come of this race,” Yepez said. “It is very ob­vi­ous that this race is far from over.”

He­berle was ahead with 2,056 votes (76.55 per­cent) as of 1:31 a.m. Wed­nes­day, while Yepez re­ceived 630 votes (23.45 per­cent).

With He­berle lead­ing by more than 1,400 votes, it’s un­likely that the er­ror will af­fect the out­come of the race.

“It’s too bad that the er­ror hap­pened, and that those vot­ers did not have the op­por­tu­nity to vote in that area,” He­berle said.

The bal­lot omis­sion was the largest chal­lenge Dubroff faced, she said, adding that the ma­jor­ity of con­cerns she heard were re­lated to the high voter turnout, such as long lines at polling places and lim­ited park­ing.

“Those are not good prob­lems to have, but it’s nice that there’s a good rea­son for them,” Dubroff said.

Al­though the News-Sentinel re­ceived re­ports on Tues­day night that “hun­dreds” of Lodi vot­ers did not re­ceive their mail-in bal­lots, Dubroff said her of­fice re­ceived only a few calls from vot­ers through­out the en­tire county who did not re­ceive mail-in bal­lots.

“Bal­lots went out on Oct. 8, and I haven’t heard of any par­tic­u­lar ar­eas hav­ing any mail is­sues,” Dubroff said.

The News-Sentinel also re­ceived re­ports on Tues­day that the polling place at Lois E. Bor­chardt Ele­men­tary School was not in its usual spot.

“I do know that we care­fully routed the path of travel for vot­ers,” Dubroff said on Wed­nes­day. “All schools were in ses­sion on Tues­day, so we took pre­cau­tions at each of the schools to keep the vot­ers and the stu­dents sep­a­rated.”

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