Election error that flipped Oakland school board race goes to court

Two candidates in an Oakland Unified school board race have lawyered up after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced a ranked-choice voting tabulation error that changed the results.

Nick Resnick and Mike Hutchinson are both claiming the District 4 school board seat, with inauguration scheduled for Monday.

Hutchinson filed a petition Friday contesting the election results and asking a judge to declare him the winner. It’s unclear how quickly it could move through court.

"I am hopeful that this can be a smooth process in court and I’m hopeful that we are not contested in trying to get the correct results used," he said in a news conference Friday.

Results were questioned after the registrar’s office said a programming error was made that affected tabulating ranked-choice ballots.

Right now, Resnick is the certified winner who is prepared to take the oath of office Monday, despite elections officials determining he did not actually win.

"I definitely want to serve the community that I believe voted me into office on November 8," Resnick said in an interview. "We have some serious questions about how the registrar is interpreting a number of things."

Resnick’s lawyer sent a letter to Alameda County Registrar Tim Dupuis, requesting documents and asking how the decision was made to re-tally the results.

A special meeting of the Board of Supervisors was held Thursday where Dupuis explained the error and provided the correct results.

A recount may take place for at least three jurisdictions and the county may pay for it.

The registrar’s office did not respond to KTVU’s request for clarity and information on next steps.

"This was not a problem in counting the votes," Hutchinson said. "This was a problem with the algorithm that was used to do the calculations."

Initially, voters who didn’t choose a first choice candidate but chose a second and third choice had their ballots suspended from the first round of counting.

New calculations changed the results and then winner of the District 4 race when those ballots were added back in, in the first round.

"All I know right now is that we want to make sure every vote was counted as the voter intended it to be," Resnick said. "And once that has been reviewed appropriately and completed, I will absolutely honor the result."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU