Oakland NAACP Demands Manual Recount in Mayor’s Race; Alameda County Lacks Transparency with Errors in Ranked-Choice Voting Algorithm

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The NAACP is demanding a recount in the recent Oakland mayor’s election due to a razor-thin margin of victory of 677 votes, an unusually high number of disqualified votes, and widespread confusion surrounding ranked-choice voting (RCV).

“With an election decided by slightly over 0.5% and a record number of rejected ballots, a manual recount is necessary to ensure we have a clear winner,” said Cynthia Adams, president-elect of the Oakland NAACP. “The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is refusing to pay for a recount. Instead, it is attempting to charge voters $21,000 per day, with no estimated time to complete the recount.”

Adams says one major issue is the lack of transparency with the algorithm used by the Registrar’s office to tally RCV votes. With up to five RCV options and 10 candidate choices, the algorithm is intended to ensure votes are counted correctly.

The NAACP asked Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis to disclose the algorithm used in the mayoral race but he refused, saying there was no cause for alarm. Just one week after Dupuis’s reassurance, an error in the RCV algorithm used in another election may have cost the position of at least one candidate, an Oakland School Board incumbent, as the results have since been certified.

“Voter intent is paramount and every attempt under the law must be made by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office to count every vote,” Adams said. “The Registrar has sole discretion to determine the intent of the voter before disqualifying a ballot due to an overvote, with the option of creating a duplicate ballot and counting the ballot toward the final results.”

The NAACP affirms there are several questions about disqualified ballots that can be answered only with a manual recount.

  • Nearly 3,100 votes were considered overvotes and not counted (voters selected more than one candidate in the same ranking).
  • 1,355 Votes in Alameda County were tossed out due to mismatched signatures. Approximately 300-400 of these ballots belong to Oakland voters.

These ballots, if counted, could potentially overturn the mayor’s race.

“This is an unprecedented event that caps a disastrous year in which voter confidence in free and fair elections plummeted among Oakland voters due to repeated missteps by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office,” Adams said.

The Oakland NAACP Branch is calling on local elected officials to use their power to direct the Alameda County Registrar’s office to complete a manual recount to ensure that every vote is counted.

“We remain determined in our historic mission to protect the voting rights of Black Americans,” Adams said. “The sheer number of Black elders, among them foundational voters who were among the very first Black people to vote in America, have expressed concerns around ranked-choice voting due to its confusing nature. This means that we must do everything in our power to ensure their vote is counted and renew their faith in the system.”

If you would like to help or have questions, please contact the Oakland NAACP Branch at 510-279-3300.

Media Contact:
Taryn Brown