EL CENTRO- With a record 61,000 registered voters for this November 6, 2012, Presidential Election in Imperial County and an overwhelming voter turnout, the Registrar of Voters is working diligently to process all remaining ballots. With the liberalization of vote-by-mail and provisional ballot casting, a large percentage of the total vote cannot be tallied election night. (Statewide in November, 2008, there were 3.2 million ballots cast that did not make the election night count. That represented 24% of the total vote cast.
Because of the thousands of vote-by-mail ballots that arrived at the polls on Election Day, we do not have those ballots on site until well into the night on Election Day and not in our hands until late that night or the next day, when we sort them out from the precinct supply and material returns. Our focus on election night is to get the precinct count totals into our system and to the public as soon as possible.
California law gives registrars 28 days to certify an election (after Election Day). This is called the canvass. The canvass is a methodical and precise accounting process, which includes counting ballots, but is much more involved and must be handled in a specific sequence. We are required to start this process on Thursday after the election.
My rough estimate of outstanding or unprocessed vote-by-mail ballots is 8,000 (this will be verified Friday afternoon). This number includes vote-by-mail ballots that arrived by mail or at the polls on Election Day, and Monday and Tuesday’s mail as well. Our goal is to process most, if not all, of the outstanding vote-by-mail ballots by Wednesday, November 14th. Please keep in mind this is an estimate and we will continue to update our election night totals when this is complete.
Processing provisional ballots (including emergency or 7 day ballots) are part of the process that can only occur towards the end of the canvas. Many steps including crediting each vote-by-mail ballot and each precinct vote must take place before we can touch the provisional ballots. Our office has an estimated 4,000 unprocessed Provisional ballots.
Some information to keep in mind, is that not all provisional ballots will qualify for tally. Not every vote-by-mail ballot will qualify as well and not every vote-by-mail ballot turned in at a particular poll site will contain a ballot that is the same ballot type as the voter’s precinct (vote-by-mail ballots can be turned in at any precinct within the voter’s county).
Questions may be directed to the Imperial County Registrar of Voters Office located 940 Main Street, Rm 206, El Centro, CA. or by calling (760) 482-4226.