INDIO – With an estimated 2,000 Vote-by-Mail ballots and approximately 36,000 Provisional ballots still to be processed, Mayor Michael H. Wilson has not conceded to his opponent and says he might seek a recount.

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Michael H. Wilson

“We are still considering all options at this point and we haven’t ruled out a request for a recount,” Wilson told Uken Report. “We have seen some irregularities in the absentee ballots, including apparent ballot harvesting, and we want to see those ballots.”

Since Election Day, the lead for top vote-getter in the race has volleyed between Wilson, who has served Indio for more than two decades, and his District 2 opponent, Waymond Fermon.

On Election night, Wilson was ahead by 67 votes. As ballot counting continued, Wilson’s lead narrowed, then the two tied, and on Friday when estimated totals were released, Fermon moved ahead by 138 votes.

“Mathematically and statistically, those 100 ballots just don’t show up in a block after three weeks of counting showed this race would be decided by a very small handful of votes,” Wilson said.. “Something is amiss here and we intend to explore it. As of Wednesday, 55,000 ballots remained to be counted countywide and we are aware of many still uncounted and unprocessed ballots that we know are in our favor.

Any person registered to vote in the state of California is eligible to seek a recount. That person must file a written request. The person requesting the recount must pay for it. Until all ballots are counted, the estimated cost of a recount in Indio is unavailable.  Additionally:

  • The recount request may specify the order in which the precincts shall be recounted, and
  • Voter may select whether the recount shall be conducted manually or by means of the voting system used, or both.
  • The request must be submitted, in writing, to the Elections Official no later than five (5) calendar days following certification of the election.

To learn more about the recount procedure, read here.

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Left to Right: Waymond Fermon, Indio Councilmember Lupe Ramos, and Councilmember-elect Oscar F. Ortiz.

Meantime, Fermon and his supporters unabashedly celebrated his victory on Friday night at CJ’s Stir it Up Mongolian Grill and Sushi Bar. Fermon also posted a photo to Facebook of himself: Oscar Ortiz, who beat incumbent Troy Strange in the Nov. 6 election; and incumbent Indio Councilmember Lupe Ramos with the caption, “This is what the future of Indio looks like.”

Though City Council races are technically nonpartisan, partisan politics crept into several local races as Democrats attempted to ride the Blue Wave at every level. Fermon, a Democrat, was supported by Democratic leaders and activists throughout the Coachella Valley.

Democratic U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz and Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez backed Fermon. So did Ramos, a registered Republican, who has had a longstanding and bitter feud with Wilson.

The 38,000 ballots yet to be processed are “only an estimate and will not reflect precise machine counting,” the Riverside County Registrar of Voters has repeatedly cautioned.

The next updated results will be posted at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4.