Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Close Votes - Sweating it out way past Election Day

In California, the Registrars of Voters don't have to report their final vote tallies until December 2. More and more voters are choosing to vote by mail, becoming permanent absentee voters, and more and more of these are not sent in early, but walked into the County Elections office or a polling place on Election Day.

This means, in some close races, we won't know the outcome for weeks. And it seems every County does it differently. In Santa Clara, for instance, where I had a candidate this year, the late absentee ballots were posted as they were counted each day, including on the weekends. My candidate appears to be winning as the vote totals are holding pretty steady day by day, but it is close.

They have, as of this writing, finished all late absentee ballots or vote-by-mail (those tuned in at the polls and so not counted with the others and not available on election night) and are working on provisional ballots. Those are the ones where there is some question about the voter's eligibility to vote, or whether they are voting in the right precinct. For those who vote in the wrong precinct, the Registrar must go through the ballot carefully, so that the votes cast for some races (like State or Countywide ones, for instance) are counted, and those that may have been erroneously cast for local races in a District in which the voter is not eligible to vote, discarded. See how complex this is?

In Marin, they expect to finish the counting of all late absentee ballots by Wednesday of this week, but not release the numbers until Friday. In a close race hanging in the balance, this can be agonizing. Two such races seem to be affected in Marin. There are two of these biting their nails as we speak.

In Sonoma, there don't seem to be any cliff-hangers, but it has been the practice there, not to release any of the counts until the last day.

Clearly some uniformity is needed. Just like I said about the way ballot statements are published in the voters pamphlets, which also vary county by County.

I wrote about that one in this Blog a while back, when the ballot statements came out. Let's see what happens with our new Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.