California, Millions of Uncounted Vote-By Mail Ballots Left

California’s Primary Presidential vote is still far from over, about 1.5 million votes from over, that is….

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2008/02/an_estimated_15.html

But there still are well over a million votes, probably about 1.5 million votes that remain to be counted. While these will not change the winner of the statewide vote, these ballots could very well affect the numbers of delegates awarded to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, especially in the local delegates elected in Congressional Districts.

Estimates from the Secretary of State’s office are that 9.1 million Californians voted, but the totals so far that we can see are 7.7 million.

The “Unprocessed Ballot Page” of the California Secretary of State lists an estimated additional 881,127 votes that were not counted in the figures released the day after the election. But even this figure does not include any estimates from Los Angeles County, the largest in the state and home to about one quarter of the voters in California. If past trends hold, Los Angeles alone will see at least 200,000 additional votes tallied, if not substantially more. Other large counties that haven’t even gotten around to estimating the uncounted ballots they are processing include Alameda County—the heaviest Democratic voting county in the state, Napa County, which had a huge turnout, Santa Barbara, and Solana County. There are other counties extant, as they say, that will also push up the vote total.

The votes to be counted are mostly vote-by-mail ballots (VBM) turned in to the polling places and counties on election day or in the crush of mail the day before. Earlier VBM ballots have been counted and were lined up by all or most county registrar of voters’ offices for processing before the polls closed.

Napa County, for instance, has not turned in an estimate yet—that has made it to the Secretary of State’s page–but according to press accounts there are an estimated 5,000 to 12,000 VBM ballots to be counted, according to a statement he made to the Napa Valley Register. Considering the size of Napa County, those uncounted ballots amount to about 25% of all votes cast.

More discussions on the California Vote-By Mail phenomenon:

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2007/11/vote_by_mail_ha.html

http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2007/10/absentee_voting_1.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/05/california.ballots/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections08/story/0,,2252867,00.html

Confusion Over Deadline Disqualifies Voters

Just another error in the Vote-By Mail system, or “glitch” as it is often referred to by election officials:

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/articles/2008/02/09/front/599194.txt

The Saturday before the election, March 1, is the last day county offices can mail out absentee ballots. Many people assume mail-in ballots need only to be postmarked before the day of the election. That’s not correct.

“It has to be in the office by the close of the polls by March 4. Being postmarked doesn’t mean anything,” Locke said. “And you know how the mail is — if it’s getting down to the last few days, I’d bring it in and drop it off myself to make sure it’s in.”

Vote-By Mail Problems Persist Nationally

During this year’s Presidential Primaries, more and more voters and states are waking up to the problems associated with Vote-By Mail and absentee ballot problems. Here’s just a few articles to get a sense of what is happening around the country:

http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2008/02/10/opinion/poll/doc47a94bef89a35849408348.txt

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=18&entry_id=24054

http://www.wdtn.com/Global/story.asp?S=7846488

And then there’s the increased potential for “granny farming” absentees:

http://www.sharonherald.com/local/local_story_040214520.html

In John XXIII Home, Hermitage, there’s no polling place but the activity department organizes absentee ballots and rides are occasionally given to polling places, said Administrator Kirk Hawthorne.

If a resident needs an absentee ballot, they go through the physician and an application for one is sent in, Hawthorne said.

What I don’t understand from this article, is how rides are given to polling places, when the polling places don’t exist? I mean….. it’s even in the same sentence of the article!

Oh, and that pick-a-party primary ballot design is spreading from Kitsap, WA, to King County, WA:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2004173439_primaryballot09m.html

Nearly one in four King County voters who mailed in their ballots did not identify themselves as Democrat or Republican, nullifying their votes in the presidential primary.

The elections office Friday called it a combination of protest and error. Some voters do not want to publicly declare a political party, even though their vote remains secret. Other voters might not know their votes will not be counted unless they choose a party.

“It’s clear that voters have strong feelings about having to take an oath,” said Bobbie Egan, spokeswoman for King County Elections.

On the King County absentee-ballot envelope, voters must check off a box next to the Democratic or Republican oath and sign the envelope. The oath declares that the voter is a member of that party who will not participate in the nomination process for any other political party this year.