Ballots still being tabulated in close California House race

Anyone doubting that every vote counts should have spent a few hours this week with election officials in Auburn. Or Placerville. Or Nevada City.

There wasn't a hanging chad in sight.

But both sides of the too-close-to-call race for the 4th Congressional District scrutinized virtually every uncounted ballot in the contest between Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown.

"It can be a mind-numbing process," said Brown volunteer Steve Barber of Granite Bay.

Barber was among a handful of volunteers watching election workers in Auburn as they duplicated ballots that were damaged or cast in the wrong precinct. The duplication is painstakingly slow: One election worker reads from a damaged ballot, such as one with coffee stains, while another person fills in a fresh one by hand. A third employee observes the process.

McClintock continued to hold a slim lead Thursday – 815 votes – in the race to represent the 17,000-square-mile district that includes all of seven counties and slivers of Sacramento and Butte.

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