Politics

5 weeks later, California's primary results officially official

File photo. A voter holds a sample ballot with her grocery list scribbled on the front page after voting for the midterm elections at Los Angeles County Lifeguard headquarters on November 2, 2010.
File photo. A voter holds a sample ballot with her grocery list scribbled on the front page after voting for the midterm elections at Los Angeles County Lifeguard headquarters on November 2, 2010.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

After more than a month since California's primary election, Secretary of State Alex Padilla certified the county results late Friday, marking an official end to the state's primary vote count.

“Over 8.5 million Californians cast votes in the June Primary — the second highest total ever in a California statewide primary election, only behind the hotly contested 2008 Presidential Primary,” Padilla said in a statement.

Statewide, voter turnout was 47.7 percent. Los Angeles County had the fifth lowest turnout in the state among counties, with 41.3 percent of registered voters participating. 

Statewide voter turnout in presidential primaries (1980-2016)

In the end, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defeated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with a much smaller margin than seen in early results. She won by 7 percentage points, or 53 to 46 percent, respectively. Republican Donald Trump received 75 percent of the vote in his primary race. 

The state's counties had until July 8 to submit their results to the secretary of state. With 58 counties, California's vote count is a vast and lengthy process. Due to sheer voter numbers, election laws, funding challenges and outdated equipment, California has one of the slowest vote counts in the country.

Counties are likely to have even slower vote counts in November when millions more voters are expected to participate. Although the length of time allowed to count the votes won't change — it's mandated by the California elections code — more counties are likely to push their vote counts close to the deadline.

County-by-county voter turnout in presidential primaries (2008-2016)

Riverside County was among the slowest counties in the state to turn in its vote count to the secretary of state's office. 

“Usually Riverside County does take longer because of the geographic size and voting system," said Rebecca Spencer, the county's registrar of voters. She said speed is not the top priority. "Accuracy comes first."

Spencer said increasingly in Riverside, voters are casting ballots via the mail, which slows down the vote count. The same trend is occurring across the state as well: 58.9 percent of ballots were cast by mail, according to the final certification released Friday.