Friedman, Nazarian, Mirisch Retain City Council Lead

More than one week after the June 7 election, Councilmembers Lester Friedman and John Mirisch and Commissioner Sharona Nazarian have maintained their lead in the race for Beverly Hills City Council. Mirisch, who currently places in third, has a slim 91-vote lead over Councilmember Robert Wunderlich.

“Feeling optimistic, but it ain’t over,” Mirisch told the Courier about the continued lead.

Wunderlich did not respond to a request for comment.

Los Angeles County does not officially certify vote totals until after an election canvass that includes a count of Vote by Mail ballots received on Election Day, provisional ballots, write-in ballots, damaged ballots and an audit of a random selection of ballots. According to Beverly Hills City Clerk Huma Ahmed, the county expects this process to conclude in the first week of July, though that deadline could shift in the event of “extenuating circumstances.”

The city currently plans to install the new Council on July 12 and hold the first meeting of the new Council on July 19. In the event of the extenuating circumstances or a recount, this timeline could change.

Ahmed does not expect a recount given the lead of the top three candidates (though she’s quick to mention that there are still outstanding votes). In the event of a recount, the newly elected individuals “are not seated until the recount concludes.”

Technically, any voter can initiate a recount, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. Recount requests must be made within five days after the certification of the vote. The person who requests the recount must bear its cost. If, however, the recount reverses the results of the election, then the county returns the money.

There is no strict deadline for when a recount must be completed, only that election workers must work six hours a day (minus weekends and holidays) until the recount is done.

While Beverly Hills will not know the exact voter turnout for the June 7 Primary until the vote is certified, preliminary results show “pretty decent” participation, Ahmed told the Courier. The city has 22,624 registered voters as of April 2022. So far, around 7,000 votes have been counted, meaning that preliminary voter turnout is sitting around 30%. Countywide participation is currently hovering just over 22%.

Nearly 22,000 residents were registered to vote in Beverly Hills in 2020, a year in which over 42% of registered voters cast a ballot, or about 9,160 voters–the highest turnout since 1982. That year saw record turnout across the country, driven by the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Although this year’s primary contest did not draw as many voters, it still saw larger turnout than the previous three-candidate cycle in 2017, in which about 25% of registered voters cast a ballot.

Ahmed explained that this City Council race was just the second since the city adjusted its election schedule to take place on even numbered years. This year, that coincided with the Statewide Direct Primary Election, which may have boosted interest and turnout.

Additionally, unlike 2017 but like 2020, the county sent out Vote by Mail ballots to all registered voters, enabling voters to return their ballots weeks before June 7. Voters also had the option of voting at polling stations 11 days before June 7 and could register in person on the same day as they cast their vote.

“Vote by Mail is obviously more accessible,” Ahmed said.

In Los Angeles County, Vote by Mail was far and away the preferred method of voting. Out of the 1,258,000 ballots counted so far, over 1 million were submitted via mail.

“We’re just letting the process move forward and we’re just going to wait for the results,” Ahmed said. “We have not had any major concern and the county has been very proactive in addressing any potential issues.”