25,000 absentee ballots left to count
No election results are final in El Dorado County. About 25,000 absentee ballots and as many as 1,500 provisional ballots have yet to be counted at El Dorado County’s election headquarters, according to Bill Schultz, the county’s recorder, clerk and registrar.
“With that many absentee ballots, I’m sure it will make a difference somewhere,” said Schultz.
Officials hope to have all ballots counted by Nov. 12, if not before.
Although all 10 of South Lake Tahoe’s precincts have come, the official results will not be finalized until next week.
A City Council race and a sales tax measure rest on the outcome of an election characterized as unprecedented.
Aside from having the highest voter registration numbers ever this year, El Dorado County also sent out an unprecedented portion of absentee ballots. Out of 105,700 registered voters, 45,000 of them requested and received absentee ballots. That’s 42 percent of total registrations.
“It’s unheard of,” Schultz said. He speculated that people might have preferred to fill out the longer ballot in the comfort of their homes. But there was also a drive to increase absentee voter numbers.
“You know there was a big push on to get people to register as a permanent absentee voter by all the parties throughout state. And also the number of issues on the ballot prompted people to apply for an absentee ballot,” Schultz said.
As of Tuesday night, only 28 percent of absentee ballots had been received and counted. Officials will continue to count all ballots received with a postmark no later than Nov. 2.
“Looking around this morning, we estimate here this morning we’ve got 25,000 to open, process and count, plus or minus 5 percent,” he said. The provisional ballots are the hardest, as they take 10 to 15 minutes each to process, because of special checks to verify addresses, signatures, and appropriate precinct. Each absentee ballot also takes time, as it must be opened, the signature scanned, and the ballot stacked and prepped for the counting machine.
“It’s a long process,” said Schultz.
– Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this report.