Chico police officer Peter Durfee took the lead over incumbent Debra Lucero in the race for District 2 supervisor in the latest update to Butte County’s primary election results.
Hours after vote centers closed Tuesday night (June 7), early returns showed Lucero leading Durfee 51.7 percent to 43.1 percent. However, Lucero’s lead evaporated as the Butte County Clerk-Recorder’s office processed more ballots. As of Friday evening (June 10), Durfee leads Lucero 50.7 percent to 45 percent, according to the Butte County Clerk-Recorder. The third candidate, environmental health and safety manager Carl Jeffries, trails with 4.2 percent.
One of the contenders must secure an outright majority, at least 50 percent plus one vote, in order to avoid a November runoff. Lucero losing her seat would tilt the balance of power further in favor of conservatives on the board, who would enjoy a 4-1 advantage for at least two years. In District 3, Lucero’s fellow Supervisor Tami Ritter was still easily fending off challenger Mary Murphy-Waldorf, 68.7 percent to 31.3 percent.
Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs told the CN&R by email Monday morning (June 13) she did not have an estimate on the number of ballots that remain uncounted in the District 2 race. The California Secretary of State reported 11,705 unprocessed ballots countywide; 47,935 were counted.
“I remain hopeful as the Election Day ballots remain to be counted and the clerk-recorder finishes the canvas,” Lucero said in a text.
Grubbs’ office has seven days to receive and count ballots postmarked Election Day. Along with the staff processing provisional ballots, she’s also sent letters to voters whose ballots need to be “cured“; that deadline is June 22.
Stressing the importance of voters signing and returning the cure letters, Grubbs said she expects the complete count by June 24.
Butte County avoided setting its low-water mark for voter turnout in a primary election. A slow election night suggested that the county could break its record for low primary participation: 35 percent, from 2014. A midnight update on the clerk-recorder’s website, about four hours after polls closed, showed only 16,389 ballots tallied out of 123,469 registered voters—a turnout rate of about 13 percent. With the latest round of ballots counted, the figure surged to 38.8 percent—on par with historical voter turnout, which is typically low during primary elections without a presidential race.
In the lone contested race for countywide office, for assessor, Alyssa Douglas was still leading by a wide margin, with 59 percent of the vote. Her opponents, Randall Stone (former Chico mayor) and Michael Howard, were drawing 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
This article was updated June 13 at 9 a.m.