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Counting votes: “We’d rather get it right than get it fast”

San Jose, CA – NOVEMBER 07: Santa Clara County elections worker Gary Capon processes provisional and late mail-in ballots, Wednesday, November 7, 2018, in San Jose, California. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

OCTOBER 30, 2020

Lea este artículo en español.

It’s the weekend before Election Day.

Elections officials across California are already processing the 9 million-plus ballots returned thus far.

But don’t expect the full picture to emerge until well after November 3.

Counting all vote-by-mail, provisional and same-day voter registration ballots, in addition to those in-person ballots cast in the days leading up to November 3, will “require additional processing time by elections officials,” according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Despite voter fraud claims from the White House, “this is normal,” Padilla stated in a press release.

“Baseless accusations of fraud during the thorough and transparent vote count process only serve to undermine confidence in our democracy,” Padilla added. “We’d rather get it right than get it fast.”

By law, Padilla’s office has until 30 days after the election to count each ballot.

In California, the presidential race is a virtual lock for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. A recent poll from UC Berkeley has him leading President Donald Trump 65 percent to 29 percent in California.

But uncertainty over the results for competitive races — like swing district congressional bouts or tight ballot props — could linger into late November.

“On Election Night, we will have a good picture of most contests, but the outcomes of close contests may take days or weeks to settle,” Padilla stated.

Already a record number of Californians have voted. About 42 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots as of Friday afternoon, according to Political Data, Inc.

For those that haven’t and plan to vote in person, the Secretary of State’s Office is suggesting they get to polling centers by Monday.

“Due to COVID-19 safety measures and high voter turnout, we are expecting long lines at voting locations on Election Day,” Padilla wrote in a Friday email. “You don’t have to wait until then to vote.”

Dylan Svoboda is a reporter at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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