In the nail-biting race for the 19th District State Senate seat, Republican Tony Strickland has regained a slim lead over Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson as ballots continue to be counted over three counties. The race, however, remains too close to call.

According to tallies updated yesterday, Strickland now holds a 540-vote lead over Jackson. Thousands more absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted, most notably in Ventura County. The California Secretary of State has until Dec. 2 to certify the election results.

Since Election Day — when a 103-vote margin prompted some to declare Jackson the winner — the race has traded leaders three times and has remained remarkably close.

Currently, there are 55,000 vote by mail absentee ballots yet to be counted in Ventura County, which has a traditionally conservative voting record that does not bode well for Jackson. Of the over 200,000 ballots already counted in Ventura County, 52.3 percent of them have gone to Strickland.

In Santa Barbara County, some 4,000 absentee ballots have yet to be counted and an additional 6,000 provisional ballots must also be dealt with. In contrast to Ventura, Santa Barbara County has leaned towards Jackson, who has captured 55.3 percent of county’s vote thus far.

Provisional ballots are held over from Election Day as a result of a number of questions concerning the voter’s registration information. Often last minute registration leads to incomplete voter lists on Election Day, which lends itself to a high number of provisional ballots.

In addition to the remaining absentee ballots, Ventura County also has approximately 15,000 provisional ballots waiting to be counted.

While the majority of the 19th District lies within Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, a small portion of northern Los Angeles County is also included in the district. A few thousand vote by mail ballots remain to be counted there.