Election Turnout Could Be Epic in Imperial County
Signs outside the voting precinct at Christ Community Church at 590 W. Orange Ave. in El Centro let residents know where they can cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 3. | CORISSA IBARRA PHOTO

ELECTION UPDATE: 19,000 Ballots Left to Count; Gonzalez Widens Gap in IID Div. 4 Race; McCabe Flips Again

Some 5,700 new ballots were processed since Friday, Nov. 6, leaving a total of around 19,000 ballots left to be counted from the Nov. 3 general election, according to the latest update from the Imperial County Registrar’s Office.

The summary report for Monday, Nov. 9, revealed that there are 12,000 mail-in ballots remaining and 7,000 provisional ballots left to be tallied.

Additionally, Monday’s report showed that the total turnout has risen to 36.93 percent now that some 31,064 ballots from the county’s 84,123 eligible registered voters have been processed.

With the remaining 19,000 still to be counted, projections are on track for a 59.5 percent total turnout for Imperial County once the election is certified by Dec. 3.

Again, there were no major changes with this most recent update, but some of the races this newspaper has been keeping tabs on continue to show movement worth noting.

IID Div. 4 Race Gap Increasing

Erik Ortega | Javier Gonzalez

There are still likely another 1,600-plus votes that could be seen before all the ballots are counted in the Imperial Irrigation District Division 4 run-off race, but challenger Javier Gonzalez has widened his lead over incumbent Erik Ortega with this latest update.

Gonzalez, a community organizer and first-time political candidate, now has 3,126 votes, or 51.22 percent of the votes cast in the race, to Ortega’s 2,977 votes, or 48.78 percent.

Ortega, who was elected in 2016, was confident last week when he said he believed he would gain ground on Gonzalez as the mail-in and provisional ballots were counted. That was when Gonzalez’s lead was in the low double-digits.

Now, Gonzalez is leading by 149 votes, up from a 96-vote lead on Friday for a seat on the influential and powerful IID board, which oversees a larger annual operating budget ($560 million on the power side; $290 million on the water side) than the county of Imperial ($540 million).

If Gonzalez maintains his win for the Calexico-area Division 4 seat, the IID Board of Directors is poised to look quite different than in years past. The Division 2 seat held by longtime Director Bruce Kuhn will be vacated toward the end of the year, and he will be replaced by newcomer JB Hamby, who defeated El Centro-area school board regular and well-known attorney Ryan Childers in the run-off race Nov. 3 by a margin of two-to-one.

McCabe’s Third Seat Still Unresolved

McCabe Union Elementary School District Trustee Michael T. McFadden and challenger Alec Austin Hendry have switched places for the third and final seat on the school board for what seems to be the umpteenth time.

With this latest update, McFadden has overtaken Hendry for the third seat by amassing 741 votes, or 19.06 percent of the votes cast in the race, to Hendry’s 735 votes, or 18.91 percent.

Separated by six votes as of the Nov. 9 report, Hendry had a five-vote edge over McFadden on Friday for the third seat. They have traded positions at least two other times.

Incumbent Karina B. Alvarez and challenger Dr. Edgar Aguilar have never moved their first and second places, respectively.

Turnout in the 20-precinct El Centro-area district has been sizable, with 1,847 ballots having been counted among the 3,920 eligible voters. That’s a turnout of 47.12 percent so far.

Heber School Board Race a Close Call

At the close of the day Friday, Claudette J. Miranda seemed to have a comfortable 17-vote lead on Helen Diaz Molina for the second and final seat on the Heber Elementary School District Board, considering there are a little more than 3,000 registered voters in the district.

But Molina moved within three votes of Miranda on Nov. 9, as Molina stands at 373 votes, or 22.65 percent, and Molina has 370 votes, or 22.47 percent.

Incumbent Pompeyo Tabarez has a commanding lead for first with 438 votes, or 26.59 percent.

The next election update is expected at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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