If you woke up November 7 thinking the election was a done deal -- totals are in, victors announced-- think again.
According to the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters, almost a quarter of the ballots - about 23 percent - have not yet had their votes added to the totals, as reported in Tuesday's Press Democrat.
On election eve, as the county's precinct ballots were being delivered to the Registrar's Santa Rosa office for tabulation, County Registrar of Voters Janice Atkinson told Patch the vote totals would come in three waves:
- The first, the results from mail-in ballots that were received by Monday, November 5, the first figures released on the county's 2012 election results page;
- The second, the Election Day ballots cast in the county's 433 precincts, as currently reported on the results page;
- Finally, the remaining vote-by-mail ballots received late Monday or during the day on Tuesday Nov. 6, and the "provisional ballots" accepted at polls but not submitted with the polling vote totals.
It is these ballots - the late arrival vote-by-mail ballots and the provisional ballots - that must be counted prior to the conclusion of the 28-day period allowed under state law for final vote totals.
Though this delay in final vote totals for Sonoma County may seem unusual, it is in fact typical for the county's Registrar of Voters department. In the June primary, results took three weeks to finalize, leading to the late concession by Norman Solomon to Daniel Roberts for the honor of losing to Jared Huffman in the second congressional district general election.
The PD reports Atkinson's decision to delay final vote totals as follows:
She said preliminary updates don't work well with the county's vote-processing system and would only delay the final count. She also questioned the value of releasing periodic, unofficial results.
"I want the candidates to have final results as soon as possible," she said. "When you have a close contest, you have to count all the ballots. Updates don't help."
The Press Democrat reports that "35,553 uncounted mail-in ballots and an estimated 6,150 provisional ballots" remain to be tabulated in Sonoma County for their total of 41,700 ballots, or "about 23 percent of the total cast by voters."
Those percentages are at some variance of the vote total currrently reported for U.S. President in Sonoma County, which adds up to over 176,000 already.
Of the races whose results could be changed by the final vote tally, the most highly visible is that between incumbent Democrat Michael Allen is trailing Democratic challenger Marc Levine in the 10th Assembly District, a district that crosses over into Marin County.
Atkinson, Sonoma County's Clerk-Recorder-Assessor, is overseeing her last election in the elected position. Earlier this year she announced her retirement for December 10, 2012.