Only 42.7 percent of California’s eligible voters cast ballots in the June 7th Primary. Although some results were called in relatively short-order after the polls closed that evening, many California residents might be surprised to learn that 9 days later on June 16th, nearly 1.37 million ballots remained unprocessed and uncounted.
Issuing, receiving and counting ballots is not the responsibility of the Secretary of State, that privilege belongs to election officials in each of the state’s 58 counties. County election officials count the ballots and transmit their results to the Secretary of State who subsequently compiles and posts the combined results.
Although the vote count appears delinquent, California law allows county elections officials up to 30 days after an Election Day to complete the vote counting, auditing, and certification process steps. The final results of the presidential primary must be forwarded to the Secretary of State by July 5th; while county officials have until July 8th to submit the final results for all other offices.
In a June 16th Press Release, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla offered some plausible explanations for the ballot counting delay. “Voting by mail has increased significantly in recent years and while most vote-by-mail ballots arrive on or before Election Day, many arrive after,” he explained. “State law as of 2014 requires that vote-by-mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received by county elections officials no later than 3 days after Election Day must be processed. County elections officials must also verify the registration status of the voter for every provisional ballot cast at the polls.”
Primary voter turnout in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties was below the state average of 42.7 percent; the counties averaged 40.5 percent and 40.4 percent respectively.