Elec­tion re­sults? Sit back and wait

Mil­lions of votes are left to be counted. It’s nor­mal: Cal­i­for­nia’s just re­ally, re­ally big.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Mark Z. Barabak

An ea­ger na­tion waits breath­lessly as Cal­i­for­nia counts its elec­tion bal­lots.

Well, not an en­tire na­tion. Just a bunch of po­lit­i­cal ob­ses­sives and some can­di­dates in limbo, anx­ious to find out whether they’re headed to Wash­ing­ton as law­mak­ers or have a lit­tle ex­tra time on their hands to draw up that per­fect Thanks­giv­ing menu.

Nearly 5 mil­lion bal­lots re­main to be counted statewide, leav­ing four con­gres­sional con­tests, in the Cen­tral Val­ley and Or­ange County, still to be de­cided.

Democrats have al­ready picked up two seats in Cali- for­nia, in the high desert

out­side Los An­ge­les and in coastal Or­ange and San Diego coun­ties, and they could gain as many as four more once the fi­nal re­sults are known.

Elec­tions are sa­cred, part of the majesty of our demo­cratic process, re­new­ing and re­plen­ish­ing our repub­lic, like fresh wa­ter to a spring. Thus, the pro­longed tab­u­la­tions are wreathed in a swelling cho­rus heard through­out the land: What the heck is tak­ing so long?!

The short an­swer is there are just a whole lot of votes to be counted, a re­sult of poli­cies en­acted to en­cour­age the great­est voter par­tic­i­pa­tion pos­si­ble and, once votes are cast, to make ev­ery ef­fort to en­sure those bal­lots are prop­erly counted.

The elec­tion was Tues­day!

And votes have been pour­ing in ever since. Any mail-in bal­lot post­marked by mid­night, Nov. 6 — elec­tion day — will be counted, so long as it was re­ceived by Fri­day’s close of busi­ness.

So it’s not as though elec­tions of­fi­cials are out surf­ing or lin­ger­ing over their mac­ro­bi­otic tofu-and-beansprout sand­wiches while bal­lots stack up un­counted. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of bal­lots cast were sent by mail, and many ar­rived on or af­ter elec­tion day.

And don’t for­get Cal­i­for­nia is big. Re­ally big. The state has nearly 20 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers. Two coun­ties alone — Los An­ge­les and Or­ange — have more vot­ers than 30 states.

And it takes work to make sure ev­ery bal­lot that’s cast is le­git­i­mate.

That may mean look­ing up an in­di­vid­ual’s ad­dress or ver­i­fy­ing his or her sig­na­ture. Or rout­ing a mail bal­lot, dropped off at the wrong polling lo­ca­tion, to its ap­pro­pri­ate county for pro­cess­ing.

There are also a ton of pro­vi­sional bal­lots that need to be pro­cessed.

If peo­ple show up and are not on the voter roll, due to, say, a cler­i­cal er­ror or be­cause they’re in the wrong place, they are nev­er­the­less al­lowed to cast their vote. Those need to be checked out af­ter­ward.

Cal­i­for­nia also has same­day regis­tra­tion, which means fur­ther work ver­i­fy­ing a whole lot of bal­lots.

All that takes time. A lot more time than it takes in a state such as Wy­oming, with 275,000 vot­ers — which is about as many as Sonoma County, in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s wine coun­try. So who’s left hang­ing?

The race in the 10th Dis­trict, in the San Joaquin Val­ley, is too close to call. Three­term GOP Rep. Jeff Den­ham was slightly ahead of Demo­cratic ri­val Josh Harder.

In Or­ange County, there are three races up in the air.

Repub­li­can Young Kim holds a nar­row lead over Demo­crat Gil Cis­neros in the race to fill the seat va­cated by re­tir­ing GOP Rep. Ed Royce in a dis­trict that also in­cludes parts of Los An­ge­les and San Bernardino coun­ties.

Two-term Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Mimi Wal­ters was ahead of Demo­cratic chal­lenger Katie Porter in in­land Or­ange County.

Along the coast, Demo­cratic chal­lenger Har­ley Rouda en­joys a healthy lead over Repub­li­can Dana Rohrabacher in his bid to oust the 15-term in­cum­bent.

There are tens of thou­sands of bal­lots still to be counted in those con­tests.

So who’s go­ing to win?

With rare ex­cep­tions, close races in Cal­i­for­nia tend to move in Democrats’ di­rec­tion — typ­i­cally by 2 per­cent­age points, ac­cord­ing to Po­lit­i­cal Data, a firm that tracks voter trends. So sev­eral of those seats could tip away from the GOP.

The rea­son is that early vot­ers, typ­i­cally older white Cal­i­for­ni­ans who be­gin mail­ing bal­lots weeks be­fore elec­tion day, lean Repub­li­can. Democrats, many of them young and mi­nor­ity, pre­fer to vote in per­son or mail their bal­lots in later.

Re­cent his­tory bears this out. To cite just two ex­am­ples from 2014, Repub­li­can Carl DeMaio led by a few hun­dred votes the day af­ter the Nov. 4 elec­tion, but mail and pro­vi­sional bal­lots in suc­ceed­ing days boosted San Diego Demo­crat Scott Peters into the lead and a re­turn to Congress.

In the same elec­tion, Demo­cratic Rep. Ami Bera trailed for over a week be­fore pulling ahead and win­ning re­elec­tion against Repub­li­can chal­lenger Doug Ose in the Sacra­mento sub­urbs.

So will this go on for­ever?

No, the sec­re­tary of state will of­fi­cially cer­tify the fi­nal re­sults in mid-De­cem­ber.

Mid-De­cem­ber?

Yep. On Dec. 14. So chill. Go surf. Or fix your­self a mac­ro­bi­otic sand­wich.

Patrick T. Fal­lon For The Times

MAIL-IN BAL­LOTS are sorted Wed­nes­day at the L.A. County reg­is­trar’s of­fice. With nearly 5 mil­lion votes un­counted statewide, some races are still un­de­cided.

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