Washington: The electoral fate of Indian American physician Ami Bera, who has a slender lead of 184 votes over his Republican rival in the Congressional election from California, now depends on counting of tens and thousands of provisional and absentee ballots, which might take days or even weeks.
Republican stalwart Dan Lungren has refused to concede the election to Bera, who gained a slender lead of 184 votes after all the votes in the hotly-contested 7th Congressional District of California. This has necessitated the counting of the provisional and absentee ballots, which is estimated to be more than 75,000.
Unlike the counting of normal ballots, those for provisional and absentee ballots takes time as every signature have to be matched and physically checked if everything is in proper order.
"Although we do not know our race`s final results, we feel confident going into the next several days," Bera has said in a statement. "The top priority right now is to make sure that every vote is fairly counted," he said.
The Lungren campaign too remained optimistic of the results. "There are tens of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, and we may not know the outcome of this race for days or even weeks. We remain cautiously optimistic and will monitor the final count closely," the Lungren campaign manager Jeff Wyly said.
According to Sacremento Bee, County election officials have not yet tallied all the absentee and provisional ballots turned in by Election Day, but spokeswoman Alice Jarboe said the sheer volume appears to be record breaking.
"I can tell just by the bins and all... The pink return containers that are filling up these hampers," she said of the scene at the elections office.
Bera, who outraised Lungren in fund raising, was endorsed by charismatic Bill Clinton during the Congressional polls. He was also endorsed by the Sacremento Bee newspaper.
If he wins, Bera would be only the third Indian-American to have ever been elected to the House of Representatives after Dalip Singh Saund, in the 1950s, and Bobby Jindal, in 2005 and 2008, who is now the Governor of Louisiana.
Besides Bera, five other Indian-Americans were in the race for a seat in the House of Representatives, but none of them could make it. They were Ricky Gill and Jack Uppal from California, Syed Taj from Michigan, Manan Trivedi from Pennsylvania and Upendra Chivukula from New Jersey.
Except for Gill who represents the Republican Party, the other five candidates were from the Democratic Party.