Politics

Millions of ballots still need to be processed in California

File: Voters take part in early ballot casting at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in Norwalk on Wednesday morning, Nov. 2, 2016.
File: Voters take part in early ballot casting at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in Norwalk on Wednesday morning, Nov. 2, 2016.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Election Day is in the rearview mirror, but more than 4 million ballots in California still haven’t been processed. Those votes could still swing tight races across the state.

The Secretary of State's Office calls these outstanding ballots "unprocessed," and many of them are vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots or damaged ballots. They take longer to count, because elections officials have to verify that voters are registered and did not cast a ballot elsewhere.

The secretary of state’s count, posted Thursday evening, totaled 4,362,087 unprocessed ballots across California. A handful of counties, including San Diego, haven’t yet reported their unprocessed ballots, so the true figure could top 4.5 million.

Huge numbers of outstanding ballots still confront the registrar in Los Angeles County—almost 1.1 million. The count around Southern California is also sizable, with a combined 983,000 ballots yet to process in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

This year, a law went into effect allowing voters to mail in their ballots as late as Election Day, provided they reach elections officials by three days after the election — that'd be today. It's one aspect of California's voter-friendly election law that means it takes longer to count votes.

The county that reported the fewest outstanding ballots? Tiny Sierra County, population 3,000. There, just one vote-by-mail ballot is left to tally.

Two propositions remain too close to call, according to projections from the Associated Press — Proposition 53, which would require all projects that cost more than $2 billion to be put to the voters, and Proposition 66, which would speed up the state's death penalty process. As of Friday, 53 was narrowly being defeated while 66 had a narrow lead.


Republican Darrell Issa has a narrow lead in another race that the Associated Press has yet to call. Janice Hahn held a 12-point lead against Steve Napolitano in a race for 4th District L.A. County supervisor, but the AP has not called that race.