WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2022
California lollygaggin': Why does it take California so long to count its freaking votes?
In just the past few hours, CNN has published a report on that topic. So has the New York Times.
For our money, the Times does a better job with the question. That starts with this key bit of logic from Soumya Karlamangla, lead writer for the Times' California Today newsletter:
KARLAMANGIA (11/16/22): Perhaps you’re wondering why the Golden State seems to take so long to count ballots. I was, too, so I asked some election experts for their insight.
I had often heard that the delay was because California is an enormous state, with nearly 22 million registered voters. But while it’s true that we have more votes to count, we also have more election workers to help guide the process along, so volume probably isn’t the primary factor.
It's a big state, with lots of votes to count! For our money, CNN's report leaned on that explanation a bit too much. Rather sensibly, Karlamangia quickly noted the fact that California, being so large, should also have a larger than average number of election workers!
So why does Cali take so long? There seem to be several reasons. In part, the delay seems to stem from the massive rise in mail-in voting around the state.
Allow us to voice a thought about one part of this passage:
KARLAMANGIA: In 2004, a third of California voters cast ballots by mail. In the June primary this year, that fraction had exploded to 91 percent, according to an analysis by the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.
Mail-in ballots take longer to process than those cast in person. Before a ballot can be opened and fed into a counting machine, an election worker must verify that the signature on the envelope matches the signature on file, to both confirm the identity of the voter and check that the person didn’t also fill out a ballot at a polling place.
It’s a tedious task that delays how long it takes to receive results...
In a cable broadcast last week, we heard someone in some other state—we think it may have been Georgia—say that such signature matches are performed by "handwriting experts."
How many such "experts" really exist? You can color us skeptical.
At any rate, California continues to count—and count, and count, and count. By state law, mail-in ballots were still being accepted as of yesterday (Tuesday).
As of today, no more ballots are being accepted. To repeat the famous old bromide, it's all over now but the statewide molasses!
Back to the Cook Report: According to the Cook Report, just over 103 million votes have been officially tabulated to date in the nation's 435 House elections.
Many votes remain uncounted. At present, though, the nationwide totals look like this:
Votes cast in House elections:
For Republican candidates: 53.0 million (51.4%)
For Democratic candidates: 48.6 million (47.1 %)
As the counting proceeds, those numbers will change. We don't know where it will end.
That said, a lot of the canines weren't eating our blue tribe's dog food last week. Looking ahead to future elections, could there possibly be some ways to peel red votes away?