L.A. County’s election won’t truly be over for weeks. Here’s why.

By Ryan Carter,
Los Angeles Daily News,
November 5, 2020


Los Angeles County voters have done their job. They voted.

But this election won’t really be over until Nov. 30. That’s when the registrar-recorder’s office will deem it “certified.”

Until then, at a giant processing hall at the Fairplex in Pomona, at a tally center in Downey and at election headquarters in Norwalk, a bustling fusion of county staff and temporary workers will continue checking, processing and tabulating nearly 800,000 remaining ballots. And candidates in tight races will have to settle for intermittent updates.

Here’s what you can expect from the L.A. County Registrar of Voters over the next few days in the ongoing effort to finish counting the votes from the general election.

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Mike Sanchez, L.A. County Registrar spokesman, said the canvassing process has not changed much from past years. What is different, he noted, was the quantities of outstanding ballots could shift because of the fact that voters could go to any vote center. That, so far, “has dramatically reduced the number of provisional ballots,” this year compared to 2016, Sanchez said.

That said, vote-by-mail ballots postmarked Election Day have an extension of 14 more days to come in, under new state legislation, Sanchez said. Pre-COVID, the extension was three days.

While officials have been touting how smooth this election has been in L.A. County — with its new vote centers and its first-time-ever vote-by-mail system, Voting Solutions for All People, what you won’t be getting are the kind of precinct updates that characterized the way the county’s votes were once reported.

For instance, the county would report soon how much of a given precinct had been reporting, offering insight into how much of the vote was left to count and where.

Under the new system, that immediate precinct information is not available immediately, making local ballots left to be counted harder to track.

“I think it is something that wasn’t considered in advance, what impact it would have on tracking votes during the canvassing period,” said Kim Alexander, president of California Voter Foundation.

County officials acknowledge the issue, noting that the benefits of convenience to voters has a tradeoff in terms of results reporting.

“From the voters’ perspective, they have the ability to go anywhere, but from the reporting standpoint we are only able to provide the countywide figures, as it relates to the number we have left to be counted,” Sanchez said.

“It is our goal to swiftly update as many ballots in each post-election result update as possible,” Sanchez said. “We have a schedule of election result updates on our website and the entire official election canvass period is a transparent and public process, which the public can view online via live stream or in-person.”

The system itself overall has been lauded. But it’s got its tradeoffs, Alexander said.

“It’s got its pluses and minuses,” Alexander said. “There are benefits to giving voters that convenience, but there are challenges using our existing toolbox we’ve relied on for decades to account for turnout by precinct… .”

That makes it harder to track, particularly for recounts and post-election audits, she said. (Full Story)