In an early musing, Circling the News questioned why it takes so long for California to have election results – it’s now Sunday, November 13, six days after the election and Los Angeles County is still counting, readers were quick to respond:
One wrote: “Your snarky comments comparing the speed of election results in Florida and California are unfortunate. Neither De Santis nor Newsom is responsible for the process. Florida Law requires mail-in ballots to be received by 7pm of Election Day, requiring early mailing (the P.O. Recommends 7 days). California law requires that the ballots must be postmarked by Election Day. Thus, the last of the hundreds of thousands of Californians who wait until near deadline (perhaps to be able to be apprised of late-breaking events before voting) might not have their ballots read until the 7-days-after-election-day deadline. As a journalist(?), you should not allow your political biases to trample the facts.”
Another wrote: “On the continuum of quicker with more suppression versus more inclusive but take more time, why wouldn’t we want more votes to count? Why do we need to know the results on election night?
“Florida has much more limited mail voting, no matter when it is mailed it does not count unless it arrives by election day, and they limit drop boxes. Our California system of maximizing participation should be highly preferred. Garcetti’s extended term does not end until the first of the year, over 7 weeks from election day. I don’t see a big deal to wait a few days for the result if it allows for more participation. Waiting does not have an impact on when the new mayor takes charge.”
Another reader, who has worked the polls wrote: “This article explains in detail about the ballot curing process taking place in Nevada, as of today 11/10. https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/as-margins-tighten-in-nevada-elections-advocates-look-to-signature-curing-for-edgeSimilar process is happening in California. Both states have razor-thin margins in a few races, forcing states to cure ballots, a process which usually isn’t necessary. These uncounted ballots can change the outcome of some very close races.
This link shows a list of states with signature cure processes:
Volunteers are now being recruited to contact voters in Nevada & California who submitted ballots that need to be cured. I just received a call to volunteer a few minutes ago. I’m done with my elections work for LA County Registrar Recorder, now I’m going to start calling for cured ballots.”
Another reader wrote: “I read CTN daily, and I am finding myself more and more concerned with the politicization. I have never written back before, but your comment about the speed of the counting of election ballots in Florida versus California was, in my view, disconcerting. It is a complex situation, and yet you seem to place the blame of the entire ‘problem’ in California, and the supposed ‘success’ in Florida, at the feet of the Governors. It is rare that the many, very nuanced, problems that exist in this country can be blamed on, or fixed by, one person.”
Another wrote: “How do you suggest California count votes on ballots that haven’t arrived yet? Under California law, absentee ballots are valid if they are postmarked by Election Day and received within 7 days AFTER Election Day. In your email newsletter you made a bizarre, fact-free comparison to Florida. In Florida, absentee ballots must be received ON Election Day to be counted. I guess this is why you’re only roughly “circling” the news? Since you are a former professional journalist, I would expect you to research the relevant facts and apply rational exposition rather than relying so much on your personal biases.”
Another resident wrote “FYI, France with nearly 70 million people manages to count and publish the final results before the morning after the election day.”
(Editor’s note: Do people remember the “hanging chads,” in Florida during the 2000 presidential race between George Bush and Al Gore? In a 2008 US News story (“Hanging Chads: As the Florida Recount Implodes, the Supreme Court Decides Bush v. Gore”) that “For 36 days, who won the White House was in limbo, as Bush and Gore were separated by a razor-thin margin, complicated by voting difficulties in Florida and the complexities of election law. . . .Overnight, concerns about voting irregularities emerged in places like Palm Beach County, where a punch-card ballot with a format that was easily misread resulted in many disqualified votes.
“Intent. Later on November 9, Gore’s team demanded a manual recount in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Volusia counties. News outlets carried images of Florida election officials staring at hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads on Florida’s punch-card ballots, trying to “discern the intent” of the voters. Bush’s lawyers argued to block the recounts; several more attempts to stop, or protect, the recounts and ballot certifications also were filed. On November 24, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Bush’s appeal of a Florida high court ruling that allowed hand recounts to proceed.
“The legal wrangling only intensified. On November 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who doubled as state campaign cochair for Bush, certified voting results that gave Bush a 537-vote lead. Gore’s team won a court hearing to challenge those totals. On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Florida Supreme Court had overstepped its authority in managing recount issues. On December 8, Florida’s high court upheld the manual recount. The next day, Bush successfully appealed for a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the recount. Bush’s team argued that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all citizens disqualified a manual recount because Florida’s counties had followed differing vote-counting procedures. The Gore team demanded that every vote be counted. On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 vote, stopped the Florida recount.”
Florida changed their voting process after that fiasco.
CTN is old fashioned and feels that sending ballots to every household is a mistake. This year, my house in Pacific Palisades received ballots for two people who no longer live here and haven’t for more than a year.
If one cares enough about voting, one can easily obtain absentee ballots—I have done that on many occasions.
Now that vote centers are open prior to elections and not just the day of, it also makes less sense to mass mail, because there are options.
In past years, I worked in several elections in Pacific Palisades – at the Calvary Church – when Los Angeles elections were still held in numerous locations – and we never turned away a voter.
Elections come under state jurisdiction, which is why there are so many variations across the United States—and because I’ve lived in different locations–I’ve voted in South Dakota, New York, New Jersey and California—I’ve seen the differences. Many feel that elections should be determined by national election laws, but I feel that they should stay with the state. Given that states are in control of elections and the governor is the head of the state CTN doesn’t think its unreasonable for Governor Gavin Newsom to step up and provide direction.
In the meantime: here’s another “snarky” comment. Maybe California could call it election month, that way those of us who would like faster results – instead of having election night parties, could have election month parties.