WatchSonoma Watch

Ballot count should be completed by Thanksgiving


County election workers kept plugging away Thursday, unpacking and verifying thousands of vote-by-mail ballots from Tuesday’s election.

Janice Atkinson, registrar of voters, said her estimate of having final, official election results by Thanksgiving still holds.

After Wednesday morning’s unofficial tally, most races in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties appear to be resolved.

A few, including a school bond measure in Cloverdale and school board races in the Piner-Olivet and Cotati-Rohnert Park districts, were separated by 25 votes or fewer and could potentially change with the uncounted ballots.

By election night, about 94,000 vote-by-mail ballots had been counted, while an estimated 31,000 were still outstanding. By Thursday afternoon, workers had verified the signatures of about 15,000 of those, Atkinson said.

“We’re still plowing through them,” she said. “We’re still taking them out of the envelopes.”

Her office doesn’t provide daily updates on vote counts.

One time-consuming challenge, Atkinson said, is illegible, missing or outdated information on the exterior labels of mail-in ballots dropped off at the polls. All of that information needs to be checked and confirmed.

“The majority go in real fast. But there are ones that have issues,” she said. “We play these fun games, ‘Whose ballot is it?’ There are thousands of them.”

Once all of the mail-in ballots are reviewed, workers will begin checking provisional ballots. Those are from people whose eligibility couldn’t be verified at the polls.

That could include people who called on Election Day saying they never got a ballot, someone who forgot to sign their ballot, or a signature that doesn’t match one on file.

There usually are about 5,000 of those ballots, Atkinson said, each of which has to be confirmed.

Elections officials can’t determine where in the county the uncounted ballots originated because a voter can drop off a mail-in ballot at any polling place in the county or at the elections office.

Four out-of-county voters, one from San Mateo County and three from Lake County, turned in their ballots in Sonoma County, Atkinson said. They won’t count because the ballot has to be received in the proper county by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

She said election workers fielded a few calls wondering why certain results were slow coming in on election night.

In Petaluma, for instance, initial results were posted shortly after 8 p.m., but updates didn’t come in until around midnight.

She said ballots from Petaluma first go to a return center in town. There are about a dozen return centers countywide.

“They have to wait until all precincts have reported before they can head north,” she said. “If one precinct is slow, we have to wait.”

4 Responses to “Ballot count should be completed by Thanksgiving”

  1. Odd Todd says:

    I gave up voting years ago and what a burden lifted off my back. It doesn’t make any difference anyway in this one party State of California.

    California has become a colony of the good old USA. Like the old British colonies, that cost the mother country too much to defend, but did provide a civil service some work and the natives were always always unhappy and demanding their own languages, culture and ways of living. When will independence come or reunification with the country to the south?

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  2. POLL WATCHER says:

    This year I volunteered to do poll watching.
    At the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial hall, I waited my turn to use the sheets with the voter tally.
    A woman came in after me and asked which party I was doing this for. I told her, and she waited for a couple of minutes, then tried to get me to tear the list in half so that she would not have to wait for it. I declined, and attempted to continue.
    Before long, the woman waiting asked the poll worker to come into the hallway.
    She was concerned because some people had been asked not to bring in voting mailers or “door hangers” with voting info. on them, other than the voter info. ballet sent to every registered voter.
    She told the poll worker that her party sent people this information, and without it, they would not know how to vote. The poll worker told her that she understood, but it was not allowed.
    The woman waiting to do the democrat count from the list I was using continued to argue with the poll worker for several minutes, until the poll worker said “well if I don’t see it, it isn’t there.” Satisfied, the woman went outside to tell the voters, then came back and sat next to me and stared at me until I finished with the list.

    If people cannot vote without spoon feeding it to them, then I say they should not be voting.

    Why should the rules be continually bent in favor of one party?

    Did my vote even get counted?

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  3. Mary says:

    When I hear on the radio about thousands of ballots being “lost” or not counted in California I wonder. When I read it takes 4 or 5 weeks to count the ballots in California I wonder about the government people who count the ballots.

    Is this just plain old government incompetence or is it something else? I don’t want to think the something else is true, but who knows? Missing, stolen or lost ballots. That should not be happening. Taking 4 or 5 weeks to count the ballots is totally unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

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  4. Mike says:

    Another sign of the times. It takes California 5 weeks to count the ballots in 2010, wow! It doesn’t take that long in most places in the world except third world dictatorships, where the test of the election is who counts the votes, not who casts the votes. Maybe California politics have reduced vote counting to that level?

    It is the job of election officials to count the votes right after they are cast. These officials are incompetent again taking weeks to count all of the votes. I would bet Google could tell you immediately how many people are on line using Google and what they are looking at.

    Why are California elections so backward and cranky? I think we know the answer to that question, bureaucratic imcompetence.

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