Black voters in Oakland are demanding that the Alameda County Registrar of Voters support a mayoral election recount and educate historically marginalized groups about ranked-choice voting.

The demands from the Oakland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People come following an Oakland mayoral race decided by fewer than 700 votes and a change to the ranked-choice process in the Nov. 8 election.

Voters were able to rank their top five candidates in this election rather than just three. Ranked-choice voting has been used in Oakland for over a decade.

People are also confused about the terminology used in ranked-choice voting, according to the NAACP. Ranked-choice voting uses terms such as overvotes. An overvote occurs when a voter gives more than one candidate the same ranking. Overvotes are not counted.

An example of a ranked-choice ballot. Voters must pick the preferred order for each candidate they choose. The winner is determined through a series of instant run-offs until one candidate has a majority. A more in-depth explanation of the process can be found in this article. (Graphic courtesy of Common Cause)

The concerns about the lack of education from the registrar around ranked-choice voting came from many community and NAACP members.

Also, many seniors have been left wondering why such a close mayoral race does not prompt an automatic recount. Seniors were discouraged to find out that an individual- or community-led recount will cost more than $21,000 a day, the amount the registrar told them.

Some NAACP members asked the registrar last Friday to instead have the county pay for the recount. They were told no. Moreover, NAACP leaders said they were given an unreasonable and insufficient notice about the $21,000 cost of the recount.

Leaders were given less than a day. They were told Dec. 15 to come the next day and provide $21,000 for a down payment on a recount that the registrar planned to start on Friday.

Allie Whitehurst, political action chair for the Oakland branch of the NAACP, said Tuesday that the organization is still requesting that the county pay for the recount.

“These are taxpayers” who are asking for the recount, Cynthia Adams, second vice president of the NAACP in Oakland said. “Pay the money.”

Registrar of Voters spokesperson Dwayna Gullatt did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the demands by the NAACP.