Correa asks for recount, cites concerns in vote counts and ballots

State Sen. Lou Correa at the state Capitol in a 2009 file photo.
State Sen. Lou Correa at the state Capitol in a 2009 file photo.
Rich Pedroncelli / AP Images

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Former state Sen. Lou Correa, who last week lost a bid for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said he is asking for a recount because of concerns about “irregularities” in the way ballots were accepted and counted.

In a written statement released Monday, Correa said his campaign staff observed “questionable occurrences” during the counting of provisional ballots and some vote-by-mail ballots received on or after Election Day, January 27.

“My campaign has received a number of reports over the past week or so contending that people who did not really live in the First Supervisorial District registered to vote and cast ballots in this election,” Correa wrote in the statement.

The district includes the cities of Garden Grove, Westminster, Fountain Valley and Santa Ana.

Correa, a veteran Democratic politician who has served in the state Senate and Assembly, lost the election by 43 votes to Andrew Do, a Republican Vietnamese American attorney.  That's out of 48,626 votes cast, according to the official count.

Correa noted in his statement that the margin was less than 1/10 of 1 percent.

Do has little electoral experience--he served three years on the Garden Grove council--but his former boss, state Sen. Janet Nguyen campaigned for him during the seven-week special election.

Latino voters dominate the First District, with 36 percent of the registration, according to an analysis by Political Data Inc. Vietnamese American voters are the second largest block, at 24 percent.  But 46 percent of the early mail-in ballots came from Vietnamese voters, pushing Do to the top.

Correa said his campaign staffers observed ballots cast by voters who appeared to have attempted to vote more than once and voters who claimed to have moved into the district just before the election without re-registering at their new address.

“I do not necessarily expect that this recount will change the outcome of the election,” Correa said in the statement. “Rather the primary purpose of the recount is to allow for my campaign – and for the public generally – to obtain the assurance it deserves that the election was conducted fairly and legally.”

Despite the recount, Do was sworn in Tuesday morning and participated in the regular Board of Supervisors meeting.

"I will give you my commitment that you will always have the best of me in intentions and in deed, in carrying out my duty," Do said after the ceremony.

Do told KPCC on Monday that he was confident that the recount would end in his favor.

The recount will begin on Monday, February 9.

Each vote must be manually recounted, according to the O.C. Registrar of Voter's office. If Correa receives a plurality of votes after the recount, the results of the official canvass will be changed.

In 2007, Nguyen appeared to have initially lost her race for the O.C. Board of Supervisors to Trung Nguyen by just seven votes. A recount reversed the lead by the same margin.  The recount was then challenged by Trung Nguyen and tested in both Superior Court and the 4th District Court of Appeals, where Janet Nguyen emerged as winner.

Among her lawyers during that extended legal fight: Andrew Do.