Hurry up and wait. That’s the advice California’s top elections official had Thursday for those looking for full results right after the state's March 3 primary.
“Our election process does not end on election night,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said on a conference call with reporters. “Due to state law and frankly the sheer size of California, the vote count will continue well beyond election night.”
There are more than 20.6 million registered voters in California, a total the secretary noted is larger than the population of every state other than Texas and Florida. California’s total is up from 17.9 million in the state’s last presidential primary in 2016.
Padilla said the general direction of most primary contests should be known on election night. But results in close races could change and final tallies may not be available for days or weeks depending on several factors.
State law requires that vote-by-mail ballots must be counted as long as they are postmarked on or before election day and arrive at county offices no later than three days after the election. That means officials may not know how many ballots are left to process until the Friday after the election.
And, for the first time this year, same-day voter registration must be available at all polling locations.
“These are all important safety-nets to protect the voting rights of Californians,” Padilla said. “And, yes, they require additional time for county officials to process and count all the ballots.”
Vote-by-mail ballots must be counted as long as they are postmarked on or before election day and arrive at county offices no later than three days after the election. That means officials may not know how many ballots are left to process until the Friday after the election.
California has already received 2.7 million vote-by-mail ballots, Padilla said. The state has issued more than 15 million mail-in ballots so far.
The secretary said officials are working to balance added election security measures with efforts to make the primary as accessible as possible. Asked whether the state had received any security threats, Padilla responded: “At this time, there are no standing, credible threats to elections in California, but it’s something we don’t take for granted. So, we are constantly vigilant, constantly on alert.”
Padilla said California prohibits voting machines from being connected to the internet for security reasons. He added that it also requires paper ballots and a verified paper audit trail.
Later on Thursday, a spokesperson for Padilla also said the Secretary of State’s Office will monitor any public health alerts tied to the coronavirus that could impact the election.
“Right now there are no indications of any disruptions to California’s March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary,” spokesperson Sam Mahood wrote in an email.
To find polling locations, contact your county elections office or visit the California Secretary of State’s website.
To register to vote online, re-register or check your registration status, visit register to vote.ca.gov. A complete guide for how to vote for president in the California primary is at HowToVoteForPresident.sos.ca.gov.
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