Election 2022: How votes broke down for trio of City Council races, what county officials say needs fixing

Turnout in the city was highest in the precinct that includes the Escena development and lowest in a precinct that includes neighborhoods in the far north portion of the city.
While convenient, county officials say voting by mail has slowed the process of counting ballots.

Riverside County’s elected leaders pointed to a few issues surrounding the Nov. 8 General Election this week, with at least one mentioning how long it took to tally all the votes. With those votes now completely counted, we’re getting a better look at how candidates for three Palm Springs City Council races did in each of their district’s neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors signed off on the final vote canvass from the election submitted by Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer, affirming the results. But a few supervisors pointed to problems that need to be addressed going forward.

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Supervisor Karen Spiegel took issue with the Executive Office’s use of the terms “successfully held” in reference to the election and the vote certification presented to the board.

“There were some challenges,” Spiegel said. “We want to ensure everyone that we’re going to work on this.”

One of Spiegel’s dislikes was the fact that English- and Spanish-language voter information guides did not go out simultaneously, with the latter pamphlets delayed.  “To me, they should go out together,” she said.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries characterized the election cycle as “messy” because of delays in distributing pamphlets and vote-by-mail ballots and tabulating results in a timely manner.

“We’re always running into challenges. It never goes as smoothly as it could,” he said. “We need to make sure our employees are supported and get the results — the accurate results — out when we can.”

Spencer has previously said the fact that so many ballots cast during major elections now arrive by mail means the process often drags out. Hundreds of thousands of ballots this election cycle first needed to have signatures verified, she said, before they could be processed.

While voters in Palm Springs made decisions in multiple races, including those at the state and federal level, those in three of the five city districts had City Council races on their ballots. The final vote count in those districts showed roughly 10,600 votes were cast in 11 different precincts, drawing 65% voter turnout.

Turnout was highest in the precinct that includes the Escena development (88%) and lowest in a precinct in the far north portion of the city that includes the neighborhoods of Mountain Gate, Desert Highland Gateway Estates, and Four Seasons (57%). Both of those areas are in District 1, where Scott Nevins — an Escena resident — was challenging Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner for the City Council District 1 seat.

Garner defeated Nevins in that race — 1,463 to 1,399 — gaining 54% of the District 1 vote in the areas outside Escena, including the far northern part of the city and the Demuth Park neighborhood. Nevins easily won the vote of his neighbors, outpacing Garner in the precinct that includes Escena, 61% to 39%.

In districts 2 and 3, where Jeffrey Bernstein and Ron deHarte won election to the City Council, the votes went the winners’ way fairly evenly, with the exception of Desert Park Estates. In that neighborhood, Renee Brown outpaced Bernstein 52% to 48%. Brown is a resident of that neighborhood.

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