Berkeley Election 2020 live blog: News, updates and results

The latest local election results and what happened during Election Day in Berkeley — all here on Berkeleyside.

Bookmark this page for Berkeley Election 2020 updates. Visit the election results tracker.

Wednesday, Nov. 4: The day after

12:10 p.m.

So here’s where things stand as of Wednesday: Other than District 2, all the Berkeley City Council incumbents appear to have kept their seats. All the ballot measures — including a raise for council members — appear to have passed except HH, the utility users tax, but the margin is small so we’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

District 2 looks like it will be a ranked-choice runoff and preliminary calculations from the available numbers show Terry Taplin comfortably in the lead.

The tenants have largely taken the Rent Stabilization Board, though at least one seat remains too close to call. And Laura Babitt and Ana Vasudeo have secured School Board seats. Elizabeth Echols looks to have won the parks board seat for Ward 1.

None of the standings changed after the first batch of results came out at 8:10 p.m., meaning those numbers may have been a representative sample. We’ll see what happens as more ballots are counted.

For complete, continuing coverage of Berkeley election results, visit Berkeleyside 2020 Election hub.

3:23 a.m.

We have confirmed with the registrar of voters office that Tuesday’s 11 p.m. update was the final one of Election Day. Officials will not be posting ranked-choice voting results on the Alameda County website at this time. Berkeleyside will share that information as soon as it becomes available. The next update is not slated to come until Thursday later in the day.

By the end of Election Day, about 32,000 Berkeley ballots had been counted. We know that, as of Tuesday morning, the county had already received about 54,000 ballots. So there are still tens of thousands of Berkeley ballots to count. But the margins are so wide with most Berkeley races that substantial changes are unlikely for most of the contests.

An empty Sproul plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

12:37 a.m.

We’re really just waiting up for now to see the ranked-choice formula for the District 2 race. Not sure how much steam we have, particularly as most of Berkeley’s other races seem pretty set.

In the past, the registrar of voters (ROV) has added, to the results page, a link every day or so where people can see each “pass” for how ranked-choice votes are reallocated. Here’s hoping that shows up sooner rather than later, particularly as there aren’t too many Election Day in-person ballots to get through. According to the ROV’s website, about 46,000 people voted in person Tuesday in Alameda County.

Berkeleyside’s Supriya Yelimeli visited Spats on Tuesday night to see what the scene there looked like in 2020 compared to 2018. It was certainly a different time then. Compare her 2020 images to what photographer Pete Rosos saw at Spats in 2018.

Tuesday, Nov. 3, Election Day

11:16 p.m.

The latest update has come out from the ROV, and new results are dribbling in for the Berkeley races. Nothing much has changed in the standings since the first report at about 8:15 p.m. An estimated 31,000 ballots or so have been counted, and there have been four updates. See all the results.

At this point, the pro-tenant slate appears to have swept the Rent Stabilization Board race, but at least one of the seats is likely too close to call.

At this point, Measure HH, the utility users tax, is the only Berkeley ballot measure that may be in trouble. The numbers are too close to call, however, with 52% opposed and 48% in favor. The margins in most of the other ballot measure races are wide.

Remember: More than 50,000 mail-in ballots from Berkeley had been received by Tuesday morning, and the updates we’re getting now are for in-person votes from the polls. So there are still a lot of ballots to tally. The ROV’s office is aiming to get through the Election Day ballots cast before calling it a night.

We expect to see a ranked-choice race in District 2, and some preliminary results should be available at the end of the night, if 2018 is any indication. D2’s current frontrunner, Terry Taplin, said he’s proud of the campaign his team has run.

“Despite the challenges of running during a pandemic and being a first-time challenger, I was able to build a strong coalition, share my vision, and connect with my neighbors throughout District 2,” he told Berkeleyside’s Supriya Yelimeli. “This is my home district, this is where I grew up, and I am deeply proud to serve and represent my community. Whichever way the election goes, I’m here to work and I’m in this for the long haul.”

Taplin currently has 39% of the votes, followed by incumbent Cheryl Davila with 29%, Alex Sharenko with 26% and Timothy Carter with 6%. If Taplin doesn’t win more than 50%, there will be a ranked-choice run-off, and Carter’s votes, then Sharenko’s, would be reallocated. Both of those candidates have positions closer to Taplin’s than Davila’s. We’ll report more as we know it.

10:45 p.m.

On this important day…

At a time like this, when so much is at stake both nationally and locally, we hope you agree that an independent, nonprofit newsroom like Berkeleyside, and all the local reporting and information we provide to you year-round, is not only vital to a healthy democracy, but also valuable to you on a daily basis. As a matter of principle, because we believe everyone in our community deserves to be kept informed with accurate, trustworthy reporting, Berkeleyside’s journalism is free to all readers. 

We depend on members to sustain our work. If you can, support our journalism with a tax-deductible donation. 

Support Berkeleyside

10:08 p.m.

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel checked in with two incumbents who appear poised to keep their City Council seats.

District 3’s Ben Bartlett said he was “feeling good,” adding: “This was a new experience. Never having gone through reelection, I’m encouraged by these results. I’m overjoyed and thankful. It shows everyone can have a second act and come back stronger than ever.” Bartlett said he broke his toe during the campaign and couldn’t walk, so he had to do Zoom outreach and be creative with his signs and messaging. Bartlett currently has 69% of the vote.

Susan Wengraf said she was happy to see the preliminary numbers: “It was gratifying to see that the people of District 6 continue to trust me to represent them.”

She said she was surprised how negative challenger Richard Illgen’s campaign was.

“I had heard he was a nice guy,” she said. “I was not prepared for the level of viciousness in his campaign. I don’t think the voters of D6 were influenced by this.”

Wengraf has 75% of the vote so far. See all the results.

9:45 p.m.

Don’t be thrown by the notice on election results that says 100% of the precincts have reported. That number does not reflect any of the mail-in ballots, so it really isn’t relevant given how people actually voted in 2020. The first batch of results that came out, about 26,000 ballots, was a portion of the mail-in ballots received before Election Day. Subsequent updates tonight will be from in-person voting center ballots cast. The next update about mail-in ballots won’t come until end of day Thursday.

The registrar of voters put out a second set of figures just before 9:30 p.m. None of the numbers really shifted. About 28,000 Berkeley ballots have been counted. The races to watch right now include West Berkeley’s District 2 and Measure HH, the proposed utility user’s tax. See all the results.

9:25 p.m.

In a Zoom session, Mayor Jesse Arreguin remarked on what appears to be a commanding lead: “I’m really encouraged by the strong support we have from voters across the board for most of the incumbents. I am really humbled and encouraged by the strong showing. It was a challenging race run during the pandemic.”

Screenshot of Zoom meeting for Jesse Arreguin's mayoral campaign.
A screenshot of Tuesday night’s Zoom meeting for Jesse Arreguin’s mayoral campaign. Image: Frances Dinkelspiel

9:05 p.m.

Shortly before the first round of results came out, Berkeleyside’s Supriya Yelimeli paid a visit to School Board candidate Michael Chang. He was watching national election news in his large, tiered backyard with his campaign team. Screens were playing CNN, MSNBC and FOX news stations. Chang — currently in third place in a race with two open seats — says he’s proud of his campaign, which was largely organized by young people. Chang said he’ll continue to work with the Berkeley Unified School District no matter what happens in the election.

School Board candidate Michael Chang at a small viewing party at his home. Photo: Supriya Yelimeli

8:45 p.m.

The first batch of ballots shows incumbents solidly in the lead for mayor, District 3 (South Berkeley), District 5 (North Berkeley) and District 6 (Berkeley Hills). Cheryl Davila is currently in second place, behind Terry Taplin, in District 2 (West Berkeley), but Taplin does not yet have the 50% majority he would need to avoid a ranked-choice runoff. See all the Berkeley results from the first batch of ballots.

7:55 p.m.

Emilie here, taking over for Tracey: Berkeleyside is ramping up to share results on all the Berkeley candidates and measures. Bookmark our Election 2020 results post to see all the stats when they come out. They should be available by about 8:30 p.m. and include the bulk of the mail-in ballots received prior to Election Day, the Alameda County registrar of voters told us Monday.

6:43 p.m.

Sophie Hahn, up for reelection this year for Berkeley City Council District 5, is also at the Revival election party tonight. She said she’s optimistic about her election after all the legwork she’s put in over the last several years, but not feeling as positively about the national election. She says campaigning during shelter in place has been lonely, and she’s looking forward to a time when everyone can return to their lives safely.

Sophie Hahn at an election night party in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Supriya Yelimeli
Sophie Hahn at an election night party in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Supriya Yelimeli

6:15 p.m.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who will be keeping a close eye on the mayoral race results when they start coming in later tonight, is among those attending an outdoor election party this evening, hosted by Revival Bar & Kitchen in downtown Berkeley. Also in attendance: Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Ben Bartlett and Bartlett’s aide James Chang. Berkeleyside reporter Supriya Yelimeli is there now and spoke to the mayor who said he’s cautiously optimistic about national results as Biden gains a few states. Locally, he said so many people have voted by mail in Berkeley that the first round of results around 8:30 p.m. should be “pretty decisive.”

5:40 p.m.

Berkeleyside reporter Eden Teller talked to Dalton Steele (below) at the Northbrae voting center on Tuesday evening. Steele voted in person because he never got his mail-in ballot (even though he registered twice). It was his first time voting in Berkeley (last election, his ballot got sent to his parents in Riverside County and he didn’t get to vote). “It’s stressful, it’s a lot,” he said about the election. Steele’s family is pretty conservative and talking about politics is hard. “It’s very polarizing,” he said. At the same time, he encourages people to work across differences and listen to each other: “No one’s ever had their mind changed by being punched in the face,” he said. He’s pansexual and worried about LGBTQ marriage rights. “Knowing that’s really in jeopardy is really terrifying.”

Dalton Steele
Dalton Steele: “It’s stressful, it’s a lot,” he said about the election. Photo: Eden Teller
andre julian and karen jackson
Andre Julien and Karen Jackson, self-described election junkies, outside the Northbrae Community Church after they voted in person. Photo: Pete Rosos

Andre Julien and Karen Jackson, above, longtime Berkeleyans and self-described “election junkies,” were also at the Northbrae voting center. They voted in person because it’s tradition and because, “we’re especially motivated this year,” said Julien. Their son, who is 19, voted for the first time earlier today. The couple have a map of the U.S. to fill in at home to keep track of senate races. “None is this will work without the senate,” said Jackson. Said Julien: “I’m looking forward to a democratic win, get some more sleep”

5:30 p.m.

On this important day…

At a time like this, when so much is at stake both nationally and locally, we hope you agree that an independent, nonprofit newsroom like Berkeleyside, and all the local reporting and information we provide to you year-round, is not only vital to a healthy democracy, but also valuable to you on a daily basis. As a matter of principle, because we believe everyone in our community deserves to be kept informed with accurate, trustworthy reporting, Berkeleyside’s journalism is free to all readers. 

We depend on members to sustain our work. If you can, support our journalism with a tax-deductible donation. 

Support Berkeleyside

5:20 p.m.

The Berkeleyside team would love to hear from readers today and tonight. What are you seeing at Berkeley voting centers? How are you watching the results? Are you hoping to hold an election party, virtual or otherwise? Please use the tips form to send in your thoughts, photos, videos and feedback.

4:23 p.m.

Some more dispatches from our reporters in the field today…

Berkeley High voting center poll worker Ken Boutte waits to collect drop off ballots. Boutte said has seen a steady increase in drop-off ballots over the last two days.  Photo: Pete Rosos
Maitime Galero
Maitime Galeros. Photo: Pete Rosos

Maitime Galeros, 24 (above), came to the Ed Roberts Campus voting center to vote in person wearing a cheetah onesie. A Davis native, Galeros has been living in Berkeley for five years and said she prefers voting in person.

Hasti McCarthy
Hasti McCarthy at the Ed Roberts Campus voting center Tuesday. Photo: Eden Teller

Hasti McCarthy (above), was born and raised in the East Bay, and voted in person today because she had a name change and her ballot came with her old name, so she wanted “to be certain that it was all valid I decided to vote in person”. She was really impressed by the cleanliness of the voting station, and surprised that there was no line but figured many people have already voted. “I’m so hopeful that Trump will not be in the White House anymore but I’m also very actively a local voter,” she said. Asked about how the election was making her feel, she shed a tear or two. “We’re so lucky to do something like this, it’s a privilege,” she said. “I’m a woman of color who gets to vote and I don’t feel like anyone’s trying to take that away from me, and I’m one of the lucky ones.”

Remesha Dorsey
Remesha Dorsey voted at the Ed Roberts Campus on Election Day. Photo: Pete Rosos

Remesha Dorsey (above) has lived in the East Bay her whole life, and usually votes with her mom and grandma at the Sojourner Truth retirement home, but that polling location is now closed. Her family owned the Dorsey’s Locker bar on Shattuck Avenue. Dorsey brought her son, daughter and niece (all adults) to vote at Ed Roberts campus today, and wore an American flag visor for the occasion. “For years we’ve been doing this as a family,” she said.

Prophet Sarhim
Prophet Sarhim voted at the Ed Roberts Campus today. Photo: Pete Rosos

Prophet Sarhim, 54 (above), was born in Oakland and lives in Berkeley. He said he likes Berkeley because it’s very politically conscious. He said he voted in person today because, “I want to make sure my vote gets counted.” He’s paying attention to both the local and national elections, but said, “the local is very important because it affects our community.” Sarhim works for Lao Family Community Development, helping formerly incarcerated people with reentry, and wants to help them register and vote. “When they return from prison they are taxpayers,” he said. “None of that taxation without representation — they paid their debt to society.”

Doretta Smith
Doretta Smith. Photo: Pete Rososo

Dorretta Smith, 50 (above), voted in person at the Ed Roberts Campus, because she always does. “It makes me feel empowered,” she said. Smith has two young adult kids, and she said it was like “pulling teeth” to get them to fill out their ballots. “They felt like I did when I was younger, like [their] vote doesn’t matter. You have the opportunity to have a voice and if you give that up, that’s on you.”

3:45 p.m.

3:30 p.m.

Several businesses in Berkeley have boarded up their façades, presumably fearing demonstrations tonight — whether celebratory or in protest mode — that could lead to vandalism. So far our reporters have spotted covered windows at Wells Fargo, USE Credit Union, WeWork, Mobile Kangaroo, Bank of America and Sweetgreen downtown, as well as at Craft & Grapes at Telegraph Avenue and Blake Street. The city of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development sent a note today to the Berkeley Business District Network citing “concerns across the nation that election results may result in protests, regardless of the outcome.” The city advised merchants to take appropriate precautions, if appropriate, and said the Berkeley Police were “actively monitoring the situation,” and that they were “not aware of any events focused on Berkeley at this time.”

2:20 p.m.

Berkeleyside election day team collage v2
The Berkeleyside Election Day reporting team — clockwise from top left: Supriya Yelimeli, Eden Teller, Emilie Raguso, Pete Rosos, Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor. Photos: Sarah Gerber, Pete Rosos and courtesy

Meet your Berkeley Election Day reporting team (above). Along with staffers Frances, Emilie, Supriya and myself (Tracey), we are joined this year by contributing reporter Eden Teller (proud Berkeley High class of 2013 who has previously interned with Berkeleyside not once, but twice), and contributing photojournalist Pete Rosos, who’s worked with us for going on a decade. We’re out and about in town talking to voters, reading the tips coming in from readers, monitoring social media and, later, of course, we’ll be watching and reporting on the results as they come in.

This isn’t our first rodeo: we’ve provided live coverage to Berkeleyans since 2012. And it always works best when you, out in the community, share your photos, observations and reports. Do so by using our tips form.

Oh, and in case you’re in Oakland and thinking, “wouldn’t it be great to have great election coverage here”? You’ve got it — just head on over to our sister site, The Oaklandside, and check out its great live Election Day blog.

2 p.m.

On this important day…

At a time like this, when so much is at stake both nationally and locally, we hope you agree that an independent, nonprofit newsroom like Berkeleyside, and all the local reporting and information we provide to you year-round, is not only vital to a healthy democracy, but also valuable to you on a daily basis. As a matter of principle, because we believe everyone in our community deserves to be kept informed with accurate, trustworthy reporting, Berkeleyside’s journalism is free to all readers. 

We depend on members to sustain our work. If you can, support our journalism with a tax-deductible donation. 

Support Berkeleyside

1:45 p.m.

Emilie here to report that Berkeley has had a strong mail-in voting effort and is slightly ahead of Alameda County in terms of ballot returns. As of Election Day, 67%  of Berkeley’s ballots had been received by the registrar of voters office, compared to 64% for the county.

Nearly 80,000 Berkeley ballots have been issued and 53,000 of those are already in. In 2016, about 65,400 ballots were cast, for a turnout of 78%. District 5 — North Berkeley — already had a 78% return rate as of Election Day. See details about ballot returns for all the Berkeley City Council districts on our map, which we’re updating daily.

1 p.m.

Hi folks, Tracey here kicking off this live Election Day blog with reports about what was going on Tuesday morning at a couple of voting stations in Berkeley. Our intrepid contributing reporter Eden Teller, and contributing photographer Pete Rosos, visited Berkeley High and then the Ed Roberts Campus where, they said, they saw a steady trickle of people voting in person.

Kimberly Jean showed up at the Berkeley High voting station around 10 a.m. with her young son, Rielee. She voted at the BHS gym and dropped off her 76-year-old mom’s ballot, too, because her mother didn’t want to leave the house. The family has been in Berkeley since the 1880s! Voting was quick and easy, she said. She said she voted in person because she values the experience: “I just really enjoy the feeling of not just putting a ballot in the mail but doing my civic duty and thanking the poll workers.”

Katherine Young, left, and Anne Ferguson are roommates and have gone to the polls together since 2016. They are focused on local elections and propositions, but their friends are talking about national results, and there’s lots of anxiety about it. It’s nice that “everyone at the polling locations wants people to be successful,” they said. Photo: Pete Rosos
Michelle Muilenburg, 18, is a first-time voter. She’s a freshman at Cal majoring in resource and conservation studies. From San Diego, she voted in person because, “I wanted to experience it fully.” “It was “good, empowering,” she said. Photo: Eden Teller
Jeff Taylor voting at the Ed Roberts campus
Jeff Taylor voting at the Ed Roberts Campus in South Berkeley. Photo: Pete Rosos

Over at the Ed Roberts Campus voting center, Jeff Taylor (above), who lives in North Oakland and works in Berkeley as a social worker for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, said he voted in person because he was behind in filling out his ballot and wanted to be sure to get it in. Taylor says he will take some time off work after the election because the pandemic, social justice protests and so on are weighing on him.

“Having to hold all of that for everybody makes me feel like I have to take some time for myself,” he told Berkeleyside’s Eden Teller. “I’m trying to be hopeful, I’m looking for change at the very top. I’m anxious and apprehensive.”

Meanwhile, Todd and Rebecca Matthews (pictured below), who have lived in Berkeley for 10 years, were also at the Ed Roberts Campus to vote. They took the opportunity to film Rebecca twirling around in front of the ballot drop box for a quick “get out the vote” TikTok post.

Todd Matthews films Rebecca Matthews for a “get out the vote” TikTok video outside the Ed Roberts Campus voting center. Photo: Pete Rosos

The Berkeleyside team would love to hear from readers throughout Election Day and night. What are you seeing at Berkeley voting centers? How are you watching the results? Please use the tips form to send in your thoughts, photos, videos and feedback. We are sharing 2020 Berkeley election updates here throughout the day.