Why is California still counting Election Ballots

By Soumya Karlamangla,
New York Times,
November 16, 2022


The election was over a week ago, but we’re still anxiously awaiting the results of several key races.

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

Perhaps you’re wondering why the Golden State seems to take so long to count ballots. I was, too, so I asked some election experts for their insight.

I had often heard that the delay was because California is an enormous state, with nearly 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 along, so volume probably isn’t the primary factor.

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In 2004, a third of California voters cast ballots by mail. In the June primary this year, that fraction had exploded to 91 percent, 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 mail every registered voter a ballot in November 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. Now that’s 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, to both confirm the identity of the voter and check that the person didn’t also fill out a ballot at a polling place.

“That’s the ironic thing,” she said. “There are some people who are observing this and thinking there must be something questionable going on, when in fact what’s going on is election officials are ensuring the security and accuracy of the vote count.” (Full Story)