Shepard Slices Hurtado’s Slim Lead by Six Votes in Recount Challenge - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Shepard Slices Hurtado’s Slim Lead by Six Votes in Recount Challenge

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Challenger David Shepard (right) picked up six votes in the state Senate District 16 recount. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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As the recount in the state Senate District 16 election enters its second week, challenger David Shepard is finding success, one vote at a time.

At the start of Tuesday, Shepard was credited with six more votes, whittling Melissa Hurtado’s lead to 16 votes.

Hurtado won her second term when the election was certified Dec. 8. The Bakersfield Democrat was sworn into office two days later, and five days after the Constitutionally-mandated start of a new term, to allow for certification of the votes.

Shepard, R-Porterville, requested a recount of Hurtado’s 22-vote victory. The counting started last week in three of the four counties in the district. Before the recount started, Kern County added net-two votes to Hurtado’s lead (from 20 to 22) — when unopened ballots were discovered. The county recertified its election.

Voters cast nearly 137,000 ballots in the hyper-competitive race.

Ballot Signature Challenges

Fresno County finished its count, posting an update Thursday. Shepard gained a net three votes — two votes more in his favor, and one vote taken away from Hurtado.

“The recount also identified a human error made at the vote center on election night, where two ballots were co-mingled. The new machine tally cleared that error, ensuring that the ballots were counted properly,” Fresno County Clerk James Kus said.

One of those votes for Shepard came from a signature challenge.

Shepard’s campaign said it successfully challenged one invalid signature from unopened voting envelopes. Returned ballots that did not have a matching signature to what the county has on file were set aside and not counted.

The successful challenge fell in Shepard’s favor.

“We’re very happy with how everything went,” Kus said. “The recount did what the recount is supposed to do.”

The Shepard campaign also said three invalid signature challenges broke its way in Tulare County — two challenges made by Shepard, and one from the Hurtado campaign. All three votes were for Shepard.

Registrar of Voters Michelle Baldwin said her office is gathering all the ballots for SD 16 to recount this week.

“We anticipate that it will take us all week to retrieve the ballots. Once the ballots have all been retrieved, we will move onto the machine recount,” Baldwin said.

Former state Sen. Andreas Borgeas, R-Fresno, (right) represents the Shepard recount team. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Three Counties Counting This Week

Tulare County, along with Kern County, will resume its recount activities this week. The Shepard campaign says Kern is in the process of sorting SD 16 ballots.

Kings County starts activities today.

By state law, the recount continues until complete, subject to the county receiving the daily cashier’s check from the candidate requesting the recount.

Costs Mounting

State election law says anyone can request a recount. There are no automatic recounts, no matter how slim the margin of victory.

Tulare County was charging $3,500 a day. Baldwin says that figure will increase to $8,000 starting Wednesday.

Fresno County charged approximately $3,900 a day.

The Shepard campaign said Kings County is charging $5,000 a day; and Kern County $7,700.

If the recount changes the outcome, Shepard would have his money refunded.

Shepard’s campaign says the recount is funded through the campaign, with the state party helping.

However, Shepard has not reported any contributions of $1,000 or more since Nov. 4, four days before the election conclusion. Any contribution of that amount must be reported within 24 hours.

The California Republican Party has not reported any spending on the Shepard campaign since Nov. 1 — a $27,000 contribution.

Hurtado received more than $100,000 from the California Democratic Party on Nov. 8, the final day of the election.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email