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LA And OC Super Tuesday Turnout Not So Super, But Voter Numbers Should Rise

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(MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Southern California’s vote centers have been closed since last night. But many races still hang in the balance, and the voter turnout figures are just starting to come into focus.

Initial figures on voter turnout sound low — 21 percent in Los Angeles County, and 29 percent in Orange County.

But those numbers will rise in the coming days. That’s because hundreds of thousands of votes are yet to be counted. And if past elections are any guide, the numbers could rise ten percentage points or more.

Election officials won’t even have all the votes until Friday, when the last vote by mail ballots arrive.

And it’ll take time for them to sort through provisional ballots, write-in votes and even damaged ballots.

Together, all those votes could be enough to swing close races. That could include forcing a runoff in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s race.

We'll keep you posted as more results roll in.

Supervisor Hahn Wants Answers About Election Day Disarray

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Voters hoping to cast their ballot at the Ace Hotel voting center in downtown Los Angeles braved long lines, with some people reportedly waiting up to two hours to vote on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn called out technical challenges and long lines at vote centers in a motion she'll file today at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

"Voting in Los Angeles took on a much-needed transformation recently," the motion reads, noting voters' new freedom to vote at any center and for multiple days leading up the election.

Hahn wrote:

"However, despite all those improvements, we heard reports of large numbers of voters who were frustrated with their experience on Election Day."

She noted insufficient staffing at popular vote centers, reports of lines up to four-hours long — leading some voters to give up — and technical problems that "were not addressed quickly."

Hahn wants the Registrar-Recorder to investigate all of the problems and report back in 45 days on how they'll be fixed before the really big election in November.

READ THE MOTION:

OC School Of The Arts Gets Charter Renewed — Without Conditions — For 5 More Years

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Supporters of the Orange County School of the Arts applauded the OC Board of Education's vote to approve the school's charter. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Orange County School of the Arts will live on for another five years – and it won't have to answer to the Santa Ana Unified School District anymore.

After about 90 minutes of presentations and discussions, the Orange County Board of Education agreed at its meeting today to take over as OCSA's charter authorizer from Santa Ana Unified. Last week, the county Department of Education staff recommended to the board that it should become the new authorizer of OCSA's charter -- on the condition that it address concerns over admissions policies and fundraising practices.

But the five-member county board voted 3-1, with one abstention, to approve the charter with no conditions.

“The Orange County School of the Arts community can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the school they cherish is here to stay," OCSA founder and executive director Ralph Opacic said in a written statement. "While I always had faith that the quality and impact of our program would be recognized, I am grateful to the Orange County Board of Education and the Orange County Department of Education for becoming our new partner."

Dozens of parents stood and applauded after the board vote.

"Thank goodness that we've got our charter and we've got it the way that we needed it ... in order for the school to continue to function on the level that it does," said Angela Grier, whose daughter is a sophomore at OCSA.

Board president Mari Barke, vice president Ken Williams, and board member Lisa Sparks voted to approve OCSA's charter petition without conditions. Board member Beckie Gomez, who favored approval with conditions, voted no.

"I don't see what the harm would be in approving the petition with those conditions to assure that some of these changes have, in fact, been made," she said before the vote.

Board member John Bedell abstained.

OCSA’s current charter with Santa Ana Unified remains in effect until June 30.

'While we appreciate the relationship that we have fostered with OCSA over the last 20 years," the district said in a statement, "we support OCDE providing oversight of OCSA going forward, as we believe there are still outstanding issues to be resolved at the school."

The county Department of Education will become the oversight agency for the public charter school starting July 1.

How’d we get here? It’s a long story.

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LA County And Local Cities Declare Public Health Emergency Over Coronavirus

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LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer speaks at a press conference Wednesday at which county officials announced they were declaring a local public health emergency. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

Six new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in the last 48 hours in Los Angeles County, prompting county leaders to declare a local public health emergency.

All six new cases were assumed to be linked to someone known to have been exposed, which means officials are still not aware of any community transmission in the county, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said at a mid-morning press conference. Officials would not say precisely where the cases occurred within the county.

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the declaration was being made out of an abundance of caution. The declaration allows the county to coordinate with local partners.

To prepare, the county is increasing its capacity for testing at local labs, and people who test positive will be monitored, Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, Pasadena and Long Beach, both of which have their own health departments, have also declared local emergencies.

Orange County officials declared their own local health emergency last week after one case of the disease, now dubbed COVID-19, was confirmed. Officials there said they did so to be able to respond to any further cases "in a nimble and flexible way."

US House District 45: What The Results Tell Us So Far

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Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-Irvine) talks with Western State College of Law students on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)


RESULTS

(Last updated 6:02 a.m. Wednesday)

Candidate Votes %
Katie Porter* 62,552 48.1%
Rhonda Furin 1,399 1.1%
Christopher J. Gonzales 3,278 2.5%
Peggy Huang 14,692 11.3%
Greg Raths 24,582 18.9%
Don Sedgwick 18,002 13.9%
Lisa Sparks 5,426 4.2%

* Incumbent

These results reflect 100% of precincts reporting, according to the Secretary of State. Keep in mind that even after all precincts have been counted, there will still be ballots to count. In some cases, it could be weeks before the official outcome is clear.


Two years ago, Katie Porter became the first-ever Democratic Congresswoman for the 45th district, which spans several inland Orange County cities including Orange, Mission Viejo and Irvine.

In Tuesday’s primary, the incumbent faced six Republican challengers in the county's most crowded congressional race. But as of early Wednesday morning, results indicated Greg Raths, a city councilman from Mission Viejo, was in second place ahead of his GOP rivals.

Meanwhile, Porter’s campaign manager Nora Walsh-Devries was optimistic going into the November election, citing the congresswoman’s record on health care and consumer protections.

"The race that we’re going to run -- we don’t have to do anything than highlight the great work she’s been doing," Walsh-Devries said Tuesday night as primary results rolled in.

The 45th is among key districts that went to Democrats two years ago as part of Orange County's "blue wave."

As for Raths, a retired Marine colonel, he issued a statement Tuesday night that read: “I will use every breath in my body to fight for the hard working residents of the 45th district.”

Late Tuesday night, Raths maintained a narrow lead among the GOP candidates.

U.S. House District 25: What The Results Tell Us So Far About Who Will Replace Katie Hill

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California Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a candidate for the House of Representatives 25th District, speaks to supporters Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Elly Yu/LAist)

LIVE RESULTS

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Keep in mind that even after all precincts have been counted, there will still be ballots to count. In some cases, it could be weeks before the official outcome is clear.


The top two candidates will face a runoff in May for the special election to fill the rest of U.S. Representative Katie Hill's term. Hill resigned last fall amid controversy.

Voters also chose their candidates in the regular primary for the new term starting in 2021.

The district, which spans northern Los Angeles County and includes parts of Ventura County, flipped from red to blue with Hill's win in 2018, helping Democrats take control of the House.

Democratic candidate Christy Smith told supporters Tuesday night that the country is watching what happens in the 25th:

“They will be seeing what we do here as a bellwether for what happens in November. Can we hold the House? Can we potentially flip the Senate? Can we get ourselves on that path to that better day that we have all been feeling the need for since 2016?”

Republican Steve Knight, who’s fighting to win his seat back after losing it to Hill in 2018, held a watch party in Lancaster.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mike Garcia, who’s won local GOP support, is planning a “coffee celebration” for Wednesday morning.

Hill was a rising star among Democrats in Congress when conservative websites published intimate photos of her without her consent. She faced a House ethics investigation into allegations of an affair with a congressional staffer, which Hill denied.

A dozen candidates were competing for the seat.

GO DEEPER:

LA City Council District 4: What The Results Tell Us So Far

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LA City Council District 4 is shown in purple. (Courtesy of the City of Los Angeles)

As of early this morning, incumbent Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu holds about 48% of the vote in the District 4 race. His competitor Nithya Raman trails with about 36%, and a third candidate Sarah Kate Levy holds 15%.

The question in the District 4 race is whether or not Ryu will be forced to face a competitor in a runoff election this fall. He is being challenged in the primary by two well-organized, progressive competitors. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the primary election, then a runoff is held between the top two vote getters.

The central issue in the race is the homelessness crisis. As the crisis deepens, it potentially leaves incumbent politicians like Ryu vulnerable as voters grow increasingly angry.

District 4 is a good test of the theory, and whether or not voters are willing to buck the status quo. The district saw the largest increase in homelessness of any in Los Angeles in last year's homeless count, and all candidates have detailed policy proposals to address the problem.

Proposition 13: What The Results Tell Us So Far

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RESULTS

(As of 6:39 a.m. Wednesday)

Votes %
Yes 2,233,528 44.1%
No 2,826,535 55.9%

These results reflect about 95% of precincts in the state reporting. Keep in mind that even after all precincts have been counted, there will still be ballots to count. In some cases, it could be weeks before the official outcome is clear.


(Secretary of State)

Proposition 13 pitted some of the state’s most powerful education advocates, including the California Teachers Association and the Association of California School Administrators, against a small group of opponents headed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the perennial opponent of tax hikes and bond debt.

In the end, it appears California voters sided with the opponents, who said they believed voters rejected the measure’s high price tag.

“They're saying we've had enough, no more debt for schools in California,” said San Diego-area State Senator Brian Jones, who co-wrote the argument against Prop 13.

THE VOTE IN LA AND ORANGE COUNTIES

As of the totals just before 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, voters in Los Angeles County were split at 52.2% approval, and 47.8% voted against the measure. The measure’s failure to garner strong support in the state’s largest county ensured its defeat, Jones said.

Orange County reflected the sentiments of most other voters around the state — the tally there was about 64% no to 36% yes.

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BACKGROUND

Prop. 13 would have raised $15 billion in bond funds to improve facilities at public schools and public colleges and universities. It would have also hired more nurses and funded Career Technical Education programs at community colleges and public schools.

The total cost to state taxpayers was estimated at $26 billion, including $11 billion from the interest on the bonds.

Jones didn’t dispute the need among schools’ and public colleges and universities to fix dilapidated facilities. He thinks lawmakers should tap into California’s healthy state surplus for that.

The California State Parent Teachers Association urged its 700,000 members to vote for Prop 13. The association’s leaders said the measure’s defeat isn’t the end.

“We still have more opportunities in the future to support public education in California, there's likely to be a Schools and Communities First measure in November,” the group’s president, Celia Jaffe, said.

That measure would raise property taxes on businesses and commercial properties.

It’s Wednesday, Mar. 4 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

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(Chava Sanchez / LAist)

What a day, what a night. L.A. voters waited in lines yesterday that were, in some cases, many, many hours long to weigh in on the next District Attorney, a handful of open seats in the judiciary and several positions on the school board… oh, and who should be in the running to be the next U.S. president.

We’ll be bringing you all the latest results as they come in today and help make sense of what they mean. Keep in mind that California has 30 days to count ballots and it may take that long to know the outcome of tight races.

Covering Today:

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.