Two days after an election left him 289 votes short of opponent Jack Weiss, Tom Hayden's quest to join the Los Angeles City Council was hanging by a thread Thursday after the city clerk said there are as many as 1,900 uncounted ballots in the 5th District race.
In the west San Fernando Valley's 3rd Council District, where police union director Dennis Zine had 132 votes more than Judith Hirshberg in the election night tally, the clerk said there may be as many as 1,400 uncounted ballots.
The city clerk has up to 12 more days to count the remaining ballots.
Hayden and Hirshberg both were buoyed by the news and again refused to concede defeat until all of the ballots were counted.
"It's very close," Hirshberg said. "It could switch. The number is large enough to make a difference."
Added Rocky Rushing, Hayden's campaign manager, "I don't think it's quite as dark as I had thought yesterday."
Both Zine and Weiss said they believe they are winners.
Deputy City Clerk Kris Heffron said her office examined all of the provisional and absentee ballots that were not counted on election day and found 1,900 envelopes that may contain ballots in the 5th District and 1,400 in the 3rd.
About 990 of the envelopes in the 5th District and 600 in the 3rd appear to be absentee ballots in which the signature on the envelope has been validated by the clerk.
The remaining envelopes appear to contain provisional ballots, those cast by people who showed up at the polling place to find their name not on the clerk's list.
Based on experience, 50% to 60% of provisional ballots in elections are found to be valid and counted, Heffron said.
Weiss received 59% of the absentee ballots that were counted on election night. Ron Turovsky, an attorney for the Weiss campaign, said he doesn't expect Weiss will fall behind in that department.
"The total number is not surprising and in no way does it cause us any alarm," Turovsky said. "We continue to believe that he has won, and the lead he has is an ironclad number that will stand up when the final votes are counted."