Alameda County Ballot Measure Back on Track?

So you thought the elections were over?

Not just yet. Backers of a measure to fund transportation in Alameda County on Monday formally reserved the right to request a recount of ballots.

Measure B1 would help fund an extension of BART to Livermore, among other projects. (John Sullivan/Getty Images)

Measure B1 calls for an increased sales tax and bonds to help pay for improvement to roads, bicycle routes, bus service and an extension of BART to Livermore.

Because it includes a tax increase — from the current 0.5 percent to a full 1 percent — it needs a two-thirds majority of votes to pass. But after the Nov. 6 elections, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters counted 350,899 votes (66.53 percent) in favor and 176,504 (33.47 percent) against. If a recount found about 700 more “yes” votes, the measure would pass.

“The mandate is clearly there from Alameda County voters,” said Arthur Dao, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, which floated the measure.

The registrar certified the vote last Wednesday, and the ATC had just five days to request a recount, meaning the deadline was Monday, Dao said. The ATC hasn’t officially decided that it wants the recount to be done, but is formally requesting one so it doesn’t lose the opportunity, he said. “It is highly likely we will request a recount.”

The recount would begin Monday or Tuesday, said Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald.

The ATC would have to pay for the recount, and Macdonald said the cost would depend on whether the ATC wants the votes tallied by hand or by machine, but would be “many thousands of dollars.” He said there is no reason to assume that the count will be different; previous recounts he has directed have changed “maybe one vote.” “But we’re happy to take their money.”

Even if Measure B1 fails, transportation projects in Alameda County will continue to get funding from a half-cent per dollar sales tax imposed by Measure B1′s predecessor, Measure B.

But that tax expires in 2022. And even now the county is not keeping up with its transportation needs, Dao said. Many streets are not well paved, the AC Transit bus system has been cutting service since 2008, demand for transportation is increasing and new state legislation requires the county to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Measure B1 would help meet those needs, said Dao.

Opponents say in the official ballot arguments that the measure is a “massive tax increase” to “fund inefficient, expensive, and underutilized public transportation systems at the expense of automobile drivers.”

If Measure B1 ultimately fails, the ATC is very likely to put a new measure before voters, Dao said.

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