Drive thru voting

One of the drive-thru voting stations set up by the county registrar of voters. 

County precincts are showing as being 100% reported and the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters’ office is hard at working tallying the remaining ballots from voters who dropped off or mailed in their ballot. To get a better idea of when voters can expect more election numbers to come in, as well as get a better picture of where the registrar’s office is at with ballot counting, we spoke with Sonoma County Registrar of Voters and Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Deva Marie Proto.

While some county and city election results seem to have large margins in between them, Proto said that it’s unlikely that the office will have a clear picture of election results this week.

“We have a lot of vote-by-mail, they all have to be signature-checked before we can do anything with them, and then all the provisionals have to be processed, researched and keyed in manually,” Proto said on Wednesday afternoon. “And at this point, we’re still counting how many we have.”

As of Wednesday, Nov. 4, Proto said ballots received before Oct. 29, as well as ballots from people who voted in-person, have been counted thus far.

“We’ve started processing some of the ballots that were dropped off close to the election or received close to the election,” Proto said. “There isn’t really a date cut off at this point, but we have not started processing any of the ballots that were dropped off on election day at the ballot drop boxes or the polling places.”

On Wednesday, Proto’s office was doing an inventory of ballots left to count, but stated that they can receive ballots postmarked on or before election day, up to 17 days after the election.

“So, we will not have an accurate count where we’re going to be saying that’s it until we’re certified, because we could receive more up until Nov. 20,” Proto said. “I think that’s fairly unlikely, but we do know we will be receiving some this week.”

The election must be certified by Dec. 3.

The registrar’s office has counted and posted results from 200,000 ballots at this point.

A final confusing thing about interpreting current election results is the fact that the county indicates that 100% of precincts have reported, but numbers keep changing.

“Precincts are not final. Precincts are the locations,” Proto said. “So, we have 100% of our precincts have results for the preliminary counts. That does not mean they’re final counts. But we have preliminary results for all precincts at this point in time.

“When we did the polling places in the past, each one was their own precinct. So, when (ballots) came back, the results would be updated showing how many precincts were back in our office,” she continued. “Because we have more the vote center model, when we finish counting our in-person voting, that meant we had all the in-person precincts reporting at that point in time. So, you’ll just see things added to all these precincts as we process more ballots. There’s no precincts that we don’t have preliminary results for.”

Proto added that incoming ballots are still being linked to their respective precincts after being dropped off elsewhere because of the drop box model utilized due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She warns that eager candidates and voters should not expect any final numbers before the weekend.

“You won’t see any changes on the election results page until then,” she concluded.

Additional reporting by Heather Bailey.

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