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Some election outcomes will be delayed

Posted: November 7, 2012 2:34 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2012 2:34 p.m.

When it comes to close races between competing candidates in Tuesday’s election, the clear winner may not be known with certainty for another month, state officials said Wednesday.

During each state general election cycle, hundreds of thousands of ballots are not counted on Election Day, according to a media release issued Wednesday by the California Secretary of State.

After each statewide election, county elections officials have 31 days to ensure every eligible ballot is counted accurately and then certify final election results to the state’s chief elections official, secretary of state officials said.

For the Nov. 6 General Election, county elections officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing ballots and until Dec. 7 to report their certified vote counts to the California secretary of state’s office.

While the secretary cannot announce the winner of a contest before all ballots are counted, news media or campaigns sometimes choose to “call” an election sooner.

In close contests, a clear winner may not be apparent for many days, as county elections officials verify and count hundreds of thousands of unprocessed ballots that include vote-by-mail ballots and provisional ballots cast at polling places. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take the full amount of time allowed by law for county elections officials to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters.

“California has more registered voters than any other state in the nation. It’s understandable some people want election returns immediately, but it’s more important than ever to get results right rather than get results fast,” said Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

“Voting by mail has increased significantly in recent years, and with many people returning vote-by-mail ballots on Election Day, county elections officials need the full month to finish their important work.”




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