Why California Still Counts Ballots

The election took place over a week ago, but we are still eagerly awaiting the results of several key races.

The winner of the tight contest for mayor of Los Angeles has yet to be determined, and more than three dozen state legislative races remain undecided. As of Tuesday night, six of the nine uncalled US House races were in California.

You might be wondering why the Golden State seems to be taking so long to count ballots. I too have asked election experts for their views.

I had often heard that the delay was because California is a huge state, with almost 22 million registered voters. But while it’s true that we have more votes to count, we also have more election workers to help guide the process, so volume probably isn’t the primary factor.

Experts told me the extra time it took to finalize the results in California was more likely because state officials had gone to great lengths to make voting here as easy as possible.

That’s a good thing, but it also means voters have more time to turn in mail-in ballots, the ability to correct errors in their ballots, and multiple ways to vote, which slows counting. final. As Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University, put it, “We prioritized participation over speed.

Here are some of the reasons for the long wait:

In 2004, one-third of California voters voted by mail. By the June primary of this year, that fraction had exploded to 91%, according to an analysis by the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.

The popularity of mail-in voting in the state had been growing for years when election officials decided to send a ballot to every registered voter in November 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. This is now the standard in California for all elections.

Mail-in ballots take longer to process than those cast in person. Before a ballot can be opened and fed into a counting machine, an election worker must verify that the signature on the envelope matches the signature on file, both to confirm the voter’s identity and to verify that the person has not also filled out a ballot at a polling station.

It’s a tedious task that delays the time it takes to receive the results, but it’s done to ensure the vote totals are accurate, said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation.

“That’s the ironic thing,” she said. “Some people are watching this and thinking there must be something dodgy going on, when in fact what is happening is that election officials are ensuring the security and accuracy of the vote count.”

California allows seven days for ballots to reach polling stations, provided they are postmarked on or before Election Day. This means that the ballots received until yesterday have been included in the count.

Most states require mail-in ballots to reach county election offices on or before Election Day, without a grace period. But California officials are giving ballots a week to ensure no votes are disqualified due to delays or mailing errors.

California counties are also required to contact voters whose envelope signatures are missing or mismatched so they can have the opportunity to submit valid signatures and have their ballots counted.

This process, known as the curative ballot, is only mandated in about half of US states. Others do not count ballots with these problems. Healing takes time and further lengthens the vote counting period in California.

Finally, under California law, county election officials have 30 days to count each ballot. In many other states, the turnaround time is around a week.

“California has always had this 30-day prospecting period, at least as long as I can remember,” said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., a Sacramento-based election data provider. But as the popularity of mail-in voting has led to more ballots after Election Day, he said, “it’s becoming a lot more obvious to people that ‘Hey, that’s taking a long time’.”

On Tuesday evening, Californian Secretary of State Shirley Weber warned that it could take several more days or even weeks to know the full results of last week’s election. In 2020, it took California 11 days to return 95% of its votes.

“It’s normal,” Weber said in a statement. “We have a process that, in accordance with the law, guarantees both the right to vote and the integrity of the election. I would ask everyone to be patient.

For more:


For $3 million: a 1940 cottage in Newport Beach, a four-bedroom house in Larkspur and a French country-style estate in Sacramento.



We write about how Californians celebrate Thanksgiving. Do you make a sourdough stuffing, or do you opt for roasted Brussels sprouts instead of a green bean casserole? Maybe you’re still traveling somewhere special in the Golden State.

Email us at [email protected] with your California Thanksgiving traditions and memories. Please include your name and the city where you live.

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Adam Matthew Drawas and Alan Joseph Pablos-Perez met via Instagram in late January 2010. They started messaging after liking each other’s Instagram story.

When they went out on their first date a week later, Drawas had expected to pay since he had chosen an expensive Los Angeles restaurant for the date. But when Pablos-Perez learned that Drawas’ birthday was later in the week, he decided to surreptitiously take care of the dinner bill.

This seemingly small gesture made a big impression.

“Alan is so sweet,” Drawas told The New York Times. “When you find someone who leads with that, it’s such a gift. Everyone they interact with, it’s with kindness, love and compassion.

Drawas could already imagine their wedding day, which took place in Beverly Hills last month. “I knew within the first 10 seconds of meeting him that it was him,” Drawas said. “I just felt it with every fiber of my body.”


Thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. — Soumya

PS Here today’s mini crossword.

Briana Scalia and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed to California Today. You can join the team at [email protected].

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