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Three-hundred and eighty-three. In a county with more than 560,000 residents, it came down to 383 votes. Measure S, a proposal that would have increased the Stanislaus County sales tax by one half of one percent to fund three major road projects and offer needed funding for road repairs throughout the county, may have failed by just .24 percent on Election Day, but supporters aren't taking the loss lying down.

Measure S supporters announced last week that they would pursue a recount of the 7,390 ballots believed to have no votes cast for Measure S on Election Day, as well as nearly 1,400 provisional ballots which were not counted on Election Day due to voter registration issues. The recount will examine these ballots by hand to see if the electronic vote counting machines missed lightly-colored marks or ignored someone hand-writing "Yes" instead of bubbling the appropriate oval.

Almost 163,000 votes were cast by Stanislaus County residents on Nov. 4, with 103,306 in favor of Measure S and 52,229 opposed, a 66.42 percent to 33.58 percent end result. As Measure S needed a two-thirds majority to pass, however, even this seemingly overwhelming majority was not enough to pass the measure.

Measure S would bring on a 20-year tax increase to raise an estimated $700 million for road maintenance and road construction projects.

Half of the revenues would be spent on local road maintenance and spent as the cities and county see fit, while the other half would be used to construct new roads. The formula would give Ceres $27.6 million for local road maintenance.

The pot of money for new road projects would be split for spending in three corridors: northern, central and southern. The Service/Mitchell/99 interchange project would take a $30 million chunk of the central corridor monies of $350 million. Ceres officials orginally requested for $62 million for Service/Mitchell.

In the other corridors, the new tax dollars would be spent to improve Highway 132 in Modesto, Highway 108 in Riverbank and Oakdale, and the West Main Corridor in Turlock, Newman, and Patterson.

The complete details about the number of precincts that will be recounted and the cost of the recount to the Yes on S Committee were not available as of press time. The Clerk-Recorder's Office has stated that a hand recount will cost the board $625 per four-person board per day, and that a full countywide recount could take as many as 10 boards working for weeks.

The recount will begin in precincts with a high number of non-votes, and will continue as long as the Yes on S Committee believes there is a chance for the measure to pass. Should early results from the recount point towards a continued failure, the recount will be abandoned.

Yes on S supporters remain positive that the 383 yes votes will be found through the recount, and that Stanislaus County's roads will begin to see some much needed repairs.

"If the recount is able to find additional votes to encourage the passage of Measure S, I think it would be best for Turlock and all of Stanislaus County," said Turlock Mayor John Lazar. "We're waiting and watching and hopeful."