“Two months to count election ballots? California’s long tallies turn election day into weeks, months”


Nearly two months after the election, a recount settled the outcome in a Northern California U.S. House primary contest, breaking a mathematically improbable tie for second place but also spotlighting the lengthy stretch it took count the votes.

Most California residents vote by mail, and in the pursuit of accuracy, thoroughness and counting every vote, the nation’s most populous state has gained a reputation for tallies that can drag on for weeks — and sometimes longer. Voting in the state’s primary election concluded on March 5.

At time when many Americans have doubts about election integrity, a two-month stretch to tally votes in one House race “absolutely is a problem from an optics point of view,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, which seeks to improve the voting process….

A tally of votes in early April showed the top spot was claimed by former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Democrat. Two other Democrats were deadlocked for the second spot with 30,249 votes each — state Assembly member Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

That tally was followed by a recount and disputes over contested ballots that concluded Wednesday, with Low picking up a five-vote advantage in the recount to claim the second spot on the November ballot.

The contest will not play into control of the narrowly divided House, which will be decided in swing districts being contested by Democrats and Republicans around the country.

The voter foundation’s Alexander said one of the problems behind lengthy counts is tight budgets for county election officials who do the laborious work. She said there is no direct funding from the state to administer elections, so counties are limited in how many people can be hired to review ballots and what kind of equipment is used. And close contests mean long vote counts.

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