Politics

Surge in mail-in ballots could delay election results

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Election Day is almost here. And although millions of Californians have already voted by mail, a record number of mail-in ballots is expected. But that creates a challenge for the vote-counters. Elections officials are expecting as many as half of all Californians will be voting by mail this election, setting up what could be some drama.

A surge of mail-in ballots has arrived at county election offices all over California. The number of California voters casting a vote-by-mail ballot this year is expected to surpass the last Presidential election in 2008 when about 42 percent, or 13.7 million ballots, were sent in.

While that sounds great with more people participating because of the ease of mail-in ballots, the downside is it could take longer to count. So for close races we might not know the results for days, maybe even weeks, "What's in the best interest for all Californians is for us to get the results right, not fast, but right," said Kim Alexander with the California Voter Foundation

About nine million mail-in ballots have been sent out statewide, roughly 20% more than 2008. Counties take time to interpret voter intent, like a bubble not filled in correctly, or choices crossed out. But one of the most time consuming activities is verifying that the signature on the envelope matches the signature on the voter registration card. Then there are those who drop off their mail-in ballot to the polling place within a couple of days of Election Day, which further delays the tally.

"Those ballots don't even get to the county registrar's office until after the polls close," said California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. "So they don't get processed until that night or perhaps the following day or even the day after."

So in those tight races, like for Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's tax measure to boost funding to public education, this election can be a nail-biter.

"Nervous, anxious whether it's going to pass or not, if we're going to get funding for schools," high school student Diana Larius said.

High school student Jose Arias from Aptos added, "It's really important for us high schoolers, students, and anyone in in the state of California because it depends on our future."

In June we did not know the results of the cigarette tax for two weeks. It eventually lost by less than one percentage point.

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jerry brown, election day, elections, voter information, voting, ballot measure, politics, nannette miranda
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