Republican David Harmer, who is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, for the 11th District seat, narrowed the gap between the two campaigners, according to results released by registrar Austin Erdman.
Harmer, though trailing in the overall 11th District tally, leads McNerney by 5,159 votes in the portion of the district that covers San Joaquin County. He picked up 813 votes in the most recent round of counting, according to Erdman.
That leaves Harmer still 1,681 votes behind the Democratic incumbent, according to statistics from San Joaquin, Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara county election officials.
Erdman said about 8,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted in San Joaquin County – those ballots must undergo signature verification by registrar employees and could endure challenges by attorneys from either campaign.
But Erdman didn’t anticipate the distance between McNerney and Harmer to change significantly because of the remaining uncounted San Joaquin County ballots.
He said, statistically, it would be unusual for the provisional ballots to make up the 1,600-vote gap between the two men.
“I have to stay neutral, but a winner is beginning to emerge,” he said.
Before the most recent totals were announced, about 20 observers from the McNerney and Harmer campaigns packed the office of the registrar, pressing against the glass windows separating the ballot counters from them and the media. As soon as results were announced, observers from both camps whipped out mobile phones and began to talk.
Erdman said the ballot-counting process in San Joaquin County was without problems, but it wasn’t the case throughout the district.
Santa Clara County initially had a problem with ballots that were marked or smudged with extra ink, but that county’s registrar said those issues were addressed.
In Contra Costa County, Harmer’s campaign challenged the way voters’ signatures on vote-by-mail ballots were verified. Ultimately, campaign observers are being allowed to watch closely as workers check to see if signatures between ballots and voter rolls match, though they are not allowed to challenge individual signatures.
No irregularities were reported in Alameda County, the fourth county touched by the 11th District.