Bay Area Poll Workers Still Counting Votes, Now and Through the Weekend

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California may not be getting much national attention three days after Election Day, but officials are still counting votes as thoroughly as anywhere else in the country. 

Many of the nine Bay Area counties said they expected to be counting through the weekend and into next week.  

Experts said more people voted in California in the 2020 election than ever. Much of that has to do with the COVID-19 restrictions prompting the state to send mail-in ballots to more than 21 million registered voters, which officials said made things much easier on Election Day.

Alameda County's voter registration roll almost hit 1 million people this election - 966,000, according to registrar Tim Dupuis, who said his people were still counting Friday afternoon. He estimated they had processed 440,000 ballots, with about 333,000 to go, so more than 770,000 county residents actually voted. Approximately 675,000 ballots were mail-in. 

"It's going to take us through the weekend and into early next week," Dupuis said.  

Alameda County hit about 80% turnout, slightly more than the 78% mark it hit in 2008, which Dupuis said was the best he could remember. He said Wednesday, "I hear that most of my peers are having the same experience. This will be definitely part of the conversation with the Secretary of State as we look at future elections." 

Contra Costa County Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott Konopasek said Friday afternoon his office was also still counting. Contra Costa received 506,347 ballots - 462,431 of those were mail-in. The county had about 70,000 left to process.  

Konopasek said Wednesday that state law usually requires counties doing early voting - of which there are 15 in California, he said - to open a certain number of polling places 11 days before Election Day, then more sites a week later. The number is based on registered voters. A regular year would force the county to scramble to find money for more sites and workers. 

"It's really expensive," Konopasek said. "But if they changed the formula to just the four days before the election, that would be great." 

Jim Irizarry, assistant registrar of voters for San Mateo County, said his office received 374,723 ballots by Friday, with 341,723 coming by mail. He said the process has been "very deliberate and steady regarding the processing of the ballots. Going very smoothly." 

Irizarry's office still had 58,575 to process, including 3,919 ballots that are being challenged over deficiencies such as a missing or mismatched signature. He said the county will contact voters to resolve those issues until the legal deadline, 28 days after the election.  

San Francisco elections chief John Arntz said Friday turnout was about 85%, up from 81% in 2016. His office received more than 407,000 mail-in votes by closing time Friday. In-person turnout on Election Day was only about 6%. 

"Yes, we are still counting," Arntz said. "We expect to have most vote-by-mail ballots counted this weekend and the provisional ballots mostly completed by early next week. We can receive ballots until Nov. 20 that arrive in the mail with postmarks on or before Election Day. The deadline to certify is Dec. 3." 

Marin County Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts said her office processed 137,558 ballots by Friday evening, leaving about 20,000 to go. Marin has more than 175,000 voters.  

Roberts said turnout was 89%, including ballots not yet counted. 

"So far we don't have many ballots coming back through the mail, but this election has not been following our usual patterns of ballot return," Roberts said. "Overall, our mission has not changed. Our No. 1 priority is accuracy. Our staff is processing the ballots as fast as possible without cutting any corners. Every eligible vote will be counted." 

Napa County reported processing 70,539 ballots by 5 p.m. Friday. County registrar of voters John Tuteur said it's about 83% of the expected turnout, so far, and Tuteur said the county expects to have 95% of the ballots counted by Tuesday. 

"Our number of processed ballots has already surpassed our total turnout in the November 2016 presidential election," Tuteur said. "There are approximately 15,000 ballots that still need to be counted."   

Solano County reported receiving 258,850 votes Friday, 139,270 by mail, according to John Gardner, Solano's assistant registrar of voters.  

"We're on track to finish by November 24th, with the bulk of vote by mail ballots behind us," Gardner said.  

Sonoma County Registrar of Voters Deva Marie Proto said Friday her office has counted 225,000 ballots. She estimated about 40,000 still need counting. "We have 28 days to certify, and we have a lot of work to do," she said.  

Santa Clara County reported on its website Friday it had so far received 653,501 ballots, a voter turnout of about 64%. The county has 1,019,309 registered voters. 

Some estimates say Californians will end up casting more than 16 million votes. Officials have said it could take days or even weeks beyond Election Day to finalize results for some races. Elections need to be certified by Dec. 3. 

Once sent, ballots can be tracked here.

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