Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir and his staff, are working hard to count every ballot cast during Tuesday’s California Primary. Weir reports that Votes Counted Election Day included 84,244 vote-by-mail-ballots (VBM) and 67,579 from precinct voting that includes mail-ins from remote precincts without a polling place. Apx. 24,000 VBM ballots turned in before election day and another 21,622 that were handed in Tuesday, plus an additional 3,084 provisional ballots remain to be counted totaling about 48,000.
“We’re just now starting to count another run and will have an update close to 5 pm. That leaves over 20,000 that arrived on election day,” said Weir. “We’re planning on another update mid next week. That will represent the bulk of the ballots cast.”
The 48,000 plus ballots constitute almost 25% of total vote cast. “This is high for us,” explained Weir. The obvious cause is the 24,000 ballots that were received before election day, but did not make the count. “I have only sparingly authorized over time. So, we did not work any of the three day weekend, two weeks ago, and we only had a minimum staff last Saturday when we were open for voting.”
Historically, California registrars, on average, have had 20 to 25% of the total vote NOT counted election night. Weir points out that in comparison, his staff has uncounted ballots in the 12% to 15% range. Either way, the rest can only be counted quickly with weekday overtime and weekend overtime.
“We usually take the full four weeks to certify our results,” said Weir. “When we do our second update, mid next week, it will include the lion’s share of the vote cast.”
County election officials have 28 days to certify. That is accounting for and counting all ballots It includes a 1% hand tally, balancing the rosters against the precinct ballots cast. There is a prescribed order in which we count ballots so as to stop double voting.
“Right now, it’s about conducting an accurate election and in avoiding increased costs.”