California Primary: Millions Of Vote-By-Mail Ballots Are Still Uncounted, Will Alter The Final Count

Dawn Papple

A non-partisan Field Poll estimated that more Californians would vote by mail in the California primary than would vote at a polling location, L.A. Times announced Wednesday morning. Setting a new record for primary voting, more voters in California are believed to have voted using the mail-in method than voted Tuesday at polling locations. L.A. Times says that California’s primary has become more like an “election week” than an election day.

Over half of all registered voters in California (53 percent) are registered to vote with a ballot that they fill out at their leisure and drop into the mailbox instead of feeding into the ballot box. In total, 8 million voters are believed to have participated in California’s primary, and those who have chosen to vote by mail had until the election day to get their ballots postmarked. Any ballot postmarked by Tuesday, June 6, will be counted and included in the official count.

“Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.”

Although the Associated Press declared 100 percent of districts reporting as of Wednesday, the reality is that ballots from vote-by-mail voters in California haven’t even all been delivered by the mail carrier to their destinations yet. So far, just over 5 million votes are accounted for, but 8 million total voters were anticipated, according to The Field Poll. Nearly 3 million ballots might still be up in the air, soon to be counted.

This figure of 3 million votes left to still be counted was also announced by the independent analysts for Target Book. Traditionally, those ballots that aren’t counted by the time the AP announces the anticipatory winners tend to be the ballots of young Democratic voters and Latino voters.

In the Democratic primary in California, the AP reported that Hillary Clinton won California. This call included 3,475,720 votes cast so far in the California Democratic primary. Still, more valid ballots will be counted in the days to come. Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by about 438,000 votes as of Wednesday afternoon. So, while 100 percent of the districts have reported, far from all of the ballots have been counted in the California primary.

Mark DiCamillo, director of The Field Poll, explained that 44.7 percent of all registered voters in California, by their estimates, would be voting by mail. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that almost 18 million Californians had registered to vote by the primary election. This is the highest number ever recorded before a primary.

According to the Field Poll, less than one-quarter of people voting by mail in the Democratic primary who were polled last week had already sent in their ballots. Those earlier voters favored Clinton. Those ballots would have already been received and mostly counted, according to pundits in California. Of the three-quarters of the vote-by-mail voters in California who had not sent their ballots in by last week, more of them said that they would be voting for Senator Sanders. It’s been noted that many Sanders voters were “No Party Preference” voters that were waiting for their cross-over ballots to arrive so that they could vote for Bernie Sanders.

The California secretary of State says that every last valid vote-by-mail ballots are counted “regardless of the outcome or closeness of any race.”

Shocking to most of the Americans who were watching the polls Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, the California Elections Code requires that the official canvass (that will include all valid vote-by-mail ballots) must begin no later than the Thursday following the election. This official canvass of the California primary is required by law to be open to the public and is permitted to take up to 30 days following the day of the election. This year, that final canvass would be due on July 7.

This canvass is required to include all valid vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots that were not already included, and valid write-in votes.

California Elections Code requires county elections officials to track and confirm the receipt of vote-by-mail ballots and “to make this information available by means of an online access system using the county’s elections division web site or via a toll-free telephone number.”

In the Democratic primary in California, the AP called the primary for Hillary Clinton. This call included significantly less than 4 million votes. 100 percent of the 22,359 precincts had reported by Wednesday. Still, millions of valid ballots remain uncounted, but will be included in the final count.

[Photo by EraserGirl | Wikimedia Commons | Creative Commons 2.0 | cropped]