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Deadline For Counting Primary Ballots Approaches

California Secretary of State report
 

California Secretary of State report

A month after California's June primary election, the California Secretary of State's office still has not officially declared winners. As of Wednesday, about 70,000 ballots remain uncounted out of more than 8.5 million cast.

California takes an especially long time to count all of its votes, since vote-by-mail ballots can arrive after Election Day and voters not on the rolls can cast provisional ballots.

"It’s something that’s uniquely Californian," says Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data, Inc., which tracks voter and election data. "We give everybody the ultimate chance, up until the last day benefit of the doubt, fill out a ballot and we’ll determine later if you’re eligible. That causes this huge, great unknown after the election."

When the Associated Press declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the state’s Democratic presidential primary on election night, only about two-thirds of the ballots cast had actually been counted.

Mitchell says the state and the country rely on unofficial declarations about who won for almost all elections.

"We knew how many ballots were in and that the number of outstanding ballots would have to be radically different in order for there to be enough of a shift."

Clinton led her opponent, Bernie Sanders, by about 13 percentage points on election night. The lead has narrowed to about 7 percentage points, as late mail-in ballots and provisional ballots--which tend to be cast by younger and No Party Preference voters--were counted.

Counties have until Friday to finish their counts, and the Secretary of State’s office will officially announce the results on July 15th.