The number of ballots left to count in the Manteca election is anyone’s guess but one fact is clear — the Nov. 6 municipal election had the highest turnout of registered voters in 36 years.
Ben Cantu increased his lead over Steve DeBrum to 677 based on the latest ballots counted Thursday while Jose Nuno continued to eat into incumbent Mike Morowit’s position as the second highest vote getter in balloting to elect two council members by cutting the gap to 87 votes.
And while both Cantu as well as David Breitenbucher who is in the first spot in the council race 428 votes ahead of Morowit declined to say whether they believe they have won due to more ballots yet to be counted, the turnout of registered voters based on ballots counted now stands at 51.3 percent.
The count Thursday included 1,502 mail-in ballots from Manteca bringing the number counted to 20,107. There were 39,149 registered Manteca voters going into the election.
Cantu has 10,392 votes — the first time ever a candidate for any municipal office in Manteca has surpassed the 10,000-vote mark — to DeBrum’s 9,715. DeBrum has 1,280 more votes that the combined total he and Cantu had in their first mayoral matchup in 2014.
Since there is no way of knowing where the remaining ballots were cast in San Joaquin County, there is no way of determining with any certainty whether the current leads are sufficient to withstand a chance as more votes are counted.
“It isn’t over until it’s over,” Morowit said.
Nuno took the same tact noting that he was pleased with the strong voter turnout.
Some of the candidates in the down ticket races credited the surge in voting to the high-profile and intensely fought 10th District congressional race where Josh Harder defeated Jeff Denham.
Cantu believes the Manteca turnout was driven due to people getting his message “if people are unhappy with what is going on in the community and if you want change you need to get out and vote.”
If the Manteca turnout was 60 percent, then there would be less than 3,600 votes to count.
If the turnout eclipses 60 percent it will come close to matching the turnout in 1982 when Manteca recalled its first directly mayor – Trena Kelly — as well as council members Rick Wentworth and Bob Davis.
The San Joaquin County Elections Department is struggling with a massive surge of mail-in votes as well as those dropped off at polling places on Election Day leaving 92,700 votes left to count after the in-person Election Day counting and those mail-in ballots received early enough to verify signatures so they could be counted after the polls closed.
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