Shepard to pursue recount in razor-thin Valley Senate race

The Porterville farmer is launching a recount, filing paperwork with the four counties covering the 16th District on Tuesday.

With State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) winning District 16 by only 20 votes, a recount in the race is inevitably on his way. 

Sources told The Sun that Republican David Shepard is likely to file a request with the state for a recount.


Late Tuesday, the Porterville farmer followed through with the rumored move, announcing he was filing paperwork with the four counties – Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern – covering the 16th District.

Shepard’s request will come even as Hurtado was already sworn in to the State Senate this week. 

Along with the likely recount, the Kern County Elections Office filed a petition with the Kern County Superior Court on Monday after finding 10 more unopened mail-in ballots. 

The elections office said that those 10 ballots are eligible to be counted. 

The elections office is asking for an extension to the certification deadline, which is Friday for the Secretary of State. 

“There are no contests in which the final result will be altered by the inclusion of these ballots,” Kern County Registrar of Voters Mary Bedard said in a statement. “All contests were decided by margins larger than the outstanding number of ballots to be counted.” 

Out of the 10 remaining ballots, five of them are from voters in the 16th Senate District. 

Those ballots, coupled with issues surrounding the deadline to cure ballots in Fresno County and a likely recount, could provide a slim hope for Shepard to oust Hurtado. 

Part of Shepard’s recount request will deal with Kern County’s issues with estimating the number of ballots it had to count. 

Shepard said in a statement over the weekend that Kern County counted 10,000 more ballots than it initially reported to the Secretary of State. 

“This raises questions about the procedures Kern County Elections chooses to implement. Ensuring the ability of the Kern County Elections Office to accurately count and report results should be a bipartisan issue,” Shepard said in a statement. 

“Given the 136,894 ballots cast, the small margin, unaccounted cured ballots, and clear procedural issues in Kern, even the slightest of errors could be consequential.” 

Any registered voter in California is able to request a recount from the Secretary of State. 

The state will determine the cost of the recount, and Shepard will have to pay an advanced deposit of the estimated amount. 

State law would require Shepard to pay a deposit in advance of each day that the recount takes place. 

Shepard would receive a refund if the recount overturns the results and declares him the winner. 

State law does not have a deadline for recounts to be completed by.

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