California Common Cause reminds voters ‘election night is not results night’

Election officials expect to have more than 12 million ballots to count if 2018 turnout numbers hold. As voters head to the polls, California Common Cause is reminding the public that it may several days for election officials to finalize results.

“It’s crucial every voice is heard in this election and that means counting every vote,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause. “California has taken extraordinary steps in recent years to make sure we go the extra mile to count every eligible vote. A slow count isn’t a problem. It’s a virtue. It means elections officials are doing everything they can to count every legitimate ballot, fairly and accurately.”

Before election officials can begin counting ballots, they must first process ballots, which includes checking to make sure the declaration on the outside of the envelope is signed by the voter, that the signature matches the signature on file, and that the voter is on the mail-in ballot list. If a voter’s signature is missing or does not match the signature on file, California law requires elections officials to notify that voter and give them an opportunity to “cure” the problem. All of these steps take time.

California is one of 38 states that permit election workers to begin processing ballots before Election Day. But California is one of 23 states that forbid election workers from counting ballots before Election Day. Counting can begin when polls open.

“Even though we may not know the election winners when we go to bed, what matters most is making sure every eligible voter’s ballot is counted accurately,” said Stein.