Many people think that when the news services report election results moments after the polls close, that these are real results.
The truth is more complicated than that.
For instance, here in West County, the poll workers have to clear their machines, gather their ballots and transport them to the County Elections Office in Martinez where they are sorted and counted. The logistics alone should explain that this process often takes two or more hours.
Now, consider the very high percentage of voters that vote by mail.
These are often referred to as Absentee Ballots but that’s not accurate. These are ballots that can be mailed in to the Election Office in advance but they’re frequently dropped off at collection points before the regularly scheduled election day. They’re often dropped off at the polling places.
Counting these ballots is a slow and laborious process. The signatures on the envelopes have to be verified with the signatures on the voter registration rolls, the envelopes have to be opened and the ballots extracted, and then the ballots are run through the counting machines.
Before all of this, however, it must be verified that the voter didn’t also vote at the polling location (no rigged elections allowed).
If a voter has been sent a vote-by-mail ballot but has lost this ballot, they can go to the polling location and cast a provisional ballot. This ballot has to be processed separately to ensure that a voter has not voted more than once.
If this sounds time consuming, it is. Ensuring that an election is conducted without reproach, though, is a critical part of the American electoral process—in spite of comments made during this recent election.
On the evening of the election results are broadcast but these are preliminary results. More ballots will be counted over the coming days and added to the total. The election Offices have as much as 30 days after the election to certify the results.
If the vote tallies in the election two years ago can be used as an example, it was 21 days after the election before the results were certified as FINAL. In that time, there were an additional 79% more votes added in the Richmond City Council race and 72% more votes in the WCCUSD School Board race.
Just to whet the appetite of our readers, here are the results as presented by the County Elections Office as of 1:04 AM on Wednesday November 9th:
As newer results become available, you can rely on Radio Free Richmond to make them available to the public.