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Recount Ends With No Changes To Vote Tally In Tight Santee City Council Race

Andrew Bowen
Observers look over the shoulders of election workers recounting ballots in the Santee City Council District 4 race, Dec. 14, 2020.

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m., Dec. 15, 2020

The San Diego County Democratic Party has withdrawn its request for a recount in the Santee City Council District 4 race after a full day of hand counting ballots Monday failed to change the results.

Dustin Trotter, a Republican, was declared the winner by just five votes, beating Samm Hurst, a Democrat.


"Both sides honestly and fairly evaluated each ballot and the result did not change," said Bill Baber, an attorney representing Trotter. "San Diegans can have confidence in the integrity of our election system."


Election workers Monday began a manual recount of a city council race in Santee where the margin of victory was just five votes.

Dustin Trotter, a Republican, was declared the winner in Santee City Council District 4, beating out Samm Hurst, a Democrat. The recount was requested by the San Diego County Democratic Party.

Recount Begins In Tight Santee City Council Race
Listen to this story by Andrew Bowen.

Trotter, who has already been sworn in, said he was pleased with the work of the Registrar of Voters during the recount and that the outcome was "in God's hands."

"It just shows that every vote counts, and that this is an awesome, awesome process that we were able to go through," Trotter said.

According to a website run by the San Diego County Republican Party, Trotter was a leader of the "Defend East County" group on Facebook that was banned by the platform in late October. Some group members posted racist messages, conspiracy theories and calls for violence.

VIDEO: Recount Begins In Tight Santee City Council Race

In addition to hand counting the ballots, the election workers are also showing observers 36 ballots that were not included in the original tally for reasons including missing or mismatched signatures or a postmark after election day.

Registrar of Voters Michael Vu will determine as soon as Monday evening whether any challenges to ballots from either side have merit and should be included or excluded from the tally.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the county Democratic party, said he did not suspect any fraud in the race but simply wanted to make sure the results were correct.

"In elections this close it is exceedingly important to ensure all legally casted ballots are counted," Rodriguez-Kennedy said in a statement. "If at the end nothing changes, we have built even more confidence in our democratic systems. And if we do find disparities, then we will have done the public a service by strengthening the democratic process for next time."

The county Democratic party paid for Monday's recount activities with a $30,000 deposit that will be refunded if the results are ultimately overturned. If the recount continues through Tuesday, the Registrar of Voters will charge an additional $10,000.