A recount of votes will be done on an Alameda County transportation sales tax measure that narrowly lost at the polls.

Measure B1 would have raised an existing half-cent transportation sales tax to a full cent and raised nearly $8 billion over three decades for roads, freeways and public transit.

The Alameda County Transportation Commission announced Thursday it is paying for a partial recount of votes.

The measure lost by 0.14 of a percent or fewer than 800 out of the 527, 403 votes cast. In need of 66.67 percent of the vote to pass, the traffic congestion fighting measure garnered 66.53 percent in the November election.

"We owe it to the 66.53 percent of the voters who supported the measure to leave no stone unturned in finding out if Measure B1 was really defeated," said Art Dao, executive director of the agency that manages the sales tax. "This is too important not to act on."

The measure would provide money to fix potholes, improve freeways, boost bus service, and provide $400 million for a BART extension to Livermore.

Many transportation leaders statewide are watching the results because passage of the measure would make Alameda the Northern California county with a full 1-cent transportation sales tax.

The recount likely will begin Monday, said David Macdonald, the Alameda County registrar of voters.


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The Alameda County transportation agency, overseen by a 22-member panel of elected city and county officials, will pick up the $5,000 per day tab for the recount, but how long the recount will last is uncertain.

The Alameda County commission wants to start out with a partial recount before deciding whether to expand it into a full-blown one of all votes, Dao said.

The county will examine votes at some precincts in Oakland and Berkeley that strongly supported the tax increase, but had a percentage of ballots being cast with no vote made on the B1 measure.

If the partial recount results are encouraging, then the commission will pay to expand the recount, Dao said.

Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, also a county transportation commissioner, agreed that a recount is warranted.

"We still may not win, but we owe the majority of voters who supported us to do everything we can to see if the measure passed," he said.

Many transportation commissioners have said if B1 loses, they will put it before voters again. But that would be very costly, Sbranti said.

Dao said it's appropriate and legal to use transportation agency funds to pay for the recount. Some $1 million of agency funds were spent to put the measure on the November ballot, he added.

"Taking an incremental approach to the recount allows us to be very cautious how we spend our money," he added.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff