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When all the votes are counted, Rep. Brian Bilbray’s current lead over Francine Bubsy will shrink from10 percent to 4.5 percent, according to an exit poll released by Zogby International today.

The polling firm has Bilbray defeating Busby for the House seat in the 50th District with 48 percent of the vote to her 43.5 percent. Currently, the Registrar of Voters has Bilbray with 53 percent and Busby with 43 percent.

But approximately 180,000 provisional, absentee and paper ballots remain to be counted countywide and an unknown portion of those are from the district.

“This poll shows that the people who voted by paper ballots, which have not yet been counted, voted differently than those who voted by machine,” said Fritz Wenzel, director of communications for Zogby. “What this poll does is give us a preview of how that election may look when the final ballot is counted.”

Busby has refused to concede the race until all of the votes are counted.

“I think that the last ballot has as much right to be considered as the first ballot counted,” Busby said. “I’m not saying that is in anyway going to change the result of the election.”

The poll was commissioned by Paul Lehto, an elections attorney from Washington state, who said he’s not affiliated with either candidate.

Lehto contends that the county uses a “bifurcated election system.” He said electronic votes, which tend to be cast in a larger quantity by Republicans, are given preferential treatment in the counting process over paper ballots, which trend toward Democrats and are often tallied last.

“We don’t have the slightest idea who won at this point,” Lehto said.

He argues that even if the end result of the election doesn’t change, the registrar’s office reports results that heavily favor Republicans first, causing the media and the public to draw misleading conclusions about the race.

Lehto said those conclusions add to the perception that the 50th District is a Republican safe seat and can negatively impact fundraising and campaign efforts for the next contender.

All perceptions aside, Republicans enjoy a 14-point registration advantage in the gerrymandered district.

Earlier this year, Lehto filed a lawsuit contesting the results of the June election between Bilbray and Busby. Filed on behalf of two voters, the challenge named Bilbray and Mikel Haas, the registrar, and alleged that some voting machines might have been tampered with while the public was unfairly prevented from auditing the results.

A judge dismissed that case and Lehto said he has no plans to file a lawsuit pertaining to this election.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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