Elections

Election Results – When To Expect Them

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On election night, we all want to know who won and which propositions and measures passed – and as soon as possible! But the Nov. 8 Presidential General Election results are expected to take longer to come in. Here’s why.

  • For the first time, San Diego County voters will get a two-card ballot with contests listed both on the front and back. End to end, it measures 6-feet. Voters will need more time to fill them out and the Registrar of Voters will need more time to process them.
  • More mail ballots than ever before were issued by the Registrar’s office, over 1.1 million.
  • More people vote during a presidential general election than most elections.
  • A record number of registered voters: San Diego County has more than 1.65 million registered voters.
  • More polling places will be open, 1,552, up from 1,522 in the June 7 Primary Election.

In short, we have two cards for every ballot, more candidates, more measures, more voters, more polling places, more mail ballots and more ballot cards in general than ever before.

Provisional ballots always take longer. Registrar workers must make sure your votes count for the contests you were entitled to vote on and that they don’t count for the ones you weren’t.

Those mail ballots? More convenient, but if you drop them off at the polls on Election Day, the Registrar of Voters can’t start counting them until Thursday at the earliest because the signatures need to be verified first. The Registrar expects 150,000 to 200,000 mail ballots will be dropped off Nov. 8.

“This is not really a new phenomenon,” said Registrar of Voters Michael Vu. “We’re just likely to have a higher volume of outstanding ballots.”

So what can you expect?

The polls close at 8 p.m. Within minutes, the results should come through for the ballots that were mailed in, submitted at drop-off points before Election Day or during early voting at the Registrar’s office. Those numbers will probably account for 30 percent of the total vote count for the election, up to 400,000 ballots.

After that, some precinct results may trickle in, but only a very light number. Close to 11 p.m. you can expect the bulk of the precinct numbers. Then, results should come in periodically as trucks with ballot boxes continue to roll in. All the precinct ballots might not arrive until after 1 a.m. and the final unofficial election night results may not be done until after 5 a.m.

After all the precinct ballots are counted on election night, Vu expects only about 65 percent of the vote. Those tight races might still be up in the air.

“It’s not over on election night and it hasn’t been for a long, long time,” said Vu. “Close contests are not decided until all the ballots are in the count.”

While you can guess how some races will turn out due to the early numbers, the results for the tight races must wait until election workers process, review and inspect every ballot: precinct, provisional, mail-in and damaged.

“Between mail ballots and provisional ballots, a close race always comes to the very end,” said Vu. “We must do our due diligence to make sure everything is right.”

Some races may not be decided for several weeks. The presidential results must be finalized by Dec. 6, 28 days after Election Day. All other contests must be certified by Dec. 8.

For more information, visit sdvote.com or call (858) 565-5800.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact