On Monday, Nov. 12, schools, banks and government offices were closed for Veterans Day—except employees of the Santa Clara County Clerk’s elections office. Like their counterparts across California—and in many other states—they were busy validating and counting bags full of ballots mailed at the last minute.
In California, Nov. 9 was the deadline for mailed ballot to arrive at county elections offices. Statewide, more than 4 million provisional and mailed ballots were still being counted late last week—more than 460,000 in Santa Clara County.
The Registrar of Voters on Thursday had tallied an estimated 89 percent of the ballots. That still leaves thousands of ballots to be checked and counted, leaving some Election Day hopefuls biting their nails, including those vying for council seats in San Jose, Cupertino and Mountain View.
The turnout, estimated at 65 percent of eligible voters, would be a record for a non-presidential election year, both in the county and statewide. The high turnout, coupled with a record level of mail-in balloting, estimated at about 80 percent, and record registration numbers locally and statewide, accounted for the late glut of votes being counted this week, elections officials said.
Many vote-by-mail ballots had arrived on Election Day.
Ballots must be run through scanning machines and verified to avoid duplicates, and provisional ballots must be checked, along with signatures on vote-by-mail envelopes.
The county expected to report daily updates on all races online here.
In California, provisional ballots serve as a fail-safe method of ensuring all voters who show up to the polls can cast a ballot. All such ballots are carefully checked by county elections officials to confirm that the person who voted provisionally is both registered and that they did not cast a ballot by mail or at another polling place on Election Day.
It may take up to 30 days for county elections officials to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters. County elections officials must report their final results to the Secretary of State by Dec. 7. The Secretary of State will certify the results to the governor week later.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla released the final statewide report of registration ahead of the Nov .6 General Election: An all-time record of 19,696,371, an increase of nearly 2 million over 2014. This number will grow in updated reports, because registrations were allowed at polling places on Election Day, when approximately 12.2 million votes were cast statewide.
Democrats dominated registration totals with 49.5 percent. For the first time, “No Party Preference” voters, at 26.3 percent, topped Republicans, at 20.2 percent, statewide. In Santa Clara County, the Democrats account for 45.6 percent of the county’s 885,764 registered voters, with “No Party” at 33.7 percent and Republicans at 17.3 percent.
This article originally appeared in San Jose Inside’s sister paper, the Gilroy Dispatch.