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With thousands of Merced County ballots still uncounted, here are some key races to watch

Merced Sun-Star logo Merced Sun-Star 11/10/2022 Shawn Jansen, Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

Nov. 9—With many ballots still left to be counted, it may be days before some local Merced County races to be determined.

As of Wednesday morning, the Merced County Registrar's Office had 28,931 votes counted out of 124,665 registered voters. showing voter turnout at a little more than 23%.

Merced County Registrar of Voters Darlene Ingersoll didn't have the exact number of ballots left to count as of Wednesday morning, although she said it's in the thousands. Many of those are from folks who voted in-person Tuesday. "We have to physically count all of them," Ingersoll said.

According to Ingersoll the next numbers update should come Friday morning. She said Election Day went on without a hitch. "We were steady all day," Ingersoll said. "We certainly didn't have any major issues. It was a good day. Voters were able to vote."

Elections officials have until Dec. 8 to certify the results. Ingersoll says she doesn't have an estimate on when Merced County would certify the elections.

With so many ballots still left to count, it's still too early to declare winners in a handful of local races.

The closest race in the region remains Merced City Council District 6, which covers part of north Merced. There, sheriff's lieutenant and incumbent Delray Shelton is competing against Fue Xiong, an engineer and housing advocate.

Xiong leads Shelton by just one vote, 856 to 855. District 6 covers much of the city north of Yosemite Avenue.

"We need to make sure that every vote is counted," said Xiong as the results came in on Tuesday night. "I know some people just dropped off ballots (on Tuesday). We need to make sure all that is included and encourage folks to stay hopeful. Hopefully these early numbers are reflective of the end numbers."

It's not the first time Shelton has been in a tight race. Back in 2018 he won his District 6 seat by only six votes. "Four years ago we won by six votes so this close of a margin isn't something foreign to me," said Shelton on Wednesday.

"There are a lot of votes still be to be counted out there, specifically in District 6," Shelton added. "I'm confident in our electorate and now we wait for the results to determine the outcome. I feel good about that."

Too-close-to-call races in Assembly, Congress

In the race for California's 13th Congressional District, Republican farmer John Duarte as of Wednesday morning had pulled into the lead with 50.1% of the vote, two-tenths of a point above Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray in a tight race the open seat in the district, which stretches from Lathrop in the north through Coalinga in the south, and includes much of Merced County.

Only 42% of the votes are counted so it's too early to call.

Democrat Esmeralda Soria has a narrow lead on Republican Mark Pazin in their race for California's newly drawn Assembly District 27.

After more ballots were counted in Fresno, Madera and Merced counties overnight, fewer than 300 votes separated them.

Soria, a Democrat, received 24,193 votes, or 50.3%. That's only 287 more votes than Republican Pazin's 23,906 or 49.7%.

Soria has received 51.1% in the latest updated tally compared to Pazin receiving 48.9%. District 27 covers western Fresno County, most of Madera County and all of Merced County. The largest number of voters are in Merced County.

Soria, 40, is closing out her final term on the Fresno City Council. She was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to his state task force on homelessness.

Pazin, 66, was the Merced County Sheriff until 2015, when then-California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him head of the law enforcement branch of the Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento.

This story was originally published November 9, 2022 4:15 PM.

(c)2022 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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