If you’re waiting for an official notification that your ballot has been specifically “counted” you’re going to be waiting for a while.
Like – forever, actually.
According to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voter’s Office, ballot tracking software works up to the point that ballots have been received, verified, and placed in the stacks to be sent to the counting machine.
If the machine that actually tabulates the votes were to be able to link a person’s name and registration information to the actual votes that they cast, the whole concept of a “secret ballot” would be nullified and the door would be open for software to connect people to the votes that they cast.
While there has been some speculation from people using specific methods like Ballottrax and other software services to follow their mail ballots, the denotation that the ballot has been “counted” simply means that it made it the clearance pile that was going to fed through the machine.
When asked specifically if notifications are sent when ballots are officially “counted” – which means fed through the machine – a representative from the Registrar’s office speaking on behalf of San Joaquin County Registrar Melinda Dubroff noted that “ballots are secret, and the ROV cannot tie somebody’s vote to their name or voter registration.”
After a social media post from somebody in Arizona that claimed that her ballot had been nullified because the machine wouldn’t read it after using a “Sharpie” to fill it out went viral, it was only a matter of time before the story hit San Joaquin County.
And considering that San Joaquin County handed out felt-tip pens to mark ballots at in-person locations, quite a few people began speculating that it was part of an attempt to nullify the votes of the general public – or, more specifically, a government attempt to ensure that ballots weren’t counted.
According to San Joaquin County election representatives, that simply isn’t true.
When asked about whether using felt-tip pens invalidated ballots, a representative from the registrar’s office explicitly stated that “use of Sharpies does not invalidate a ballot in San Joaquin County.”
She continued by nothing that “no ink or pencil marks will invalidate a ballot, and any bleed through when a voter uses a Sharpie will not affect the other side of the ballot because the voting areas – voting boxes – are in separate columns and don’t touch the boxes on the other side.”
So, if you used a Sharpie on your mail ballot or a felt-tip pen at a service center location, rest easy – your vote will still be counted once it gets to that stage of processing.
Status of tax measures
The $260 million Manteca Unified school bond continued to hold onto more than 55 percent of the vote needed for passage while the no votes for City of Manteca’s one cent sales tax has grown slightly.
The San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters was only able to verify 7,303 ballots on Friday before the last count update. That leaves 116,888 ballots left to be counted.
The elections office has counted 156,799 ballots as of Friday at 9 p.m. The ballots counted on Election Night were cast in-person or were among those mailed-in or dropped off at various locations in advance of Tuesday.
The process requires verification of all ballots that were mailed-in or dropped off. That includes verifying signatures and addresses before they can be counted. It is a fairly laborious process.
Also state law prohibits any ballot being counted before the polls close.
Since the remaining mail-in ballots are countywide there is no way to know how many ballots left to be counted involve the city tax measure or the school bond.
It could be weeks before a final count is completed.
Measure Z as of Friday at 9 p.m. was trailing by 352 votes. It was down by 332 votes on Thursday and 208 votes on Wednesday. The tax proposal had been leading by 171 votes on Election Night.
The count now stands at 9,534 (50.95 percent) against and 9,180 (49.05 percent) in favor. The measure needs 50 percent plus one vote to pass.
The next update of the count will be made Monday at 9 p.m.
The ballots left to count could also change the numbers tallied to date for the $260 million Manteca Unified School bond. Measure A as of Friday at 9 p.m. was passing with 16,404 (57.43 percent) in favor and 12,157 (42.57 percent) against. The approval margin widened 0.21 percent since Thursday.
Measure A requires 55 percent support to pass.
In the Manteca City Council race on Thursday, incumbent Gary Singh was leading the five candidates seeking two council seats with 9,614 votes or 31.64 percent of those that had been counted.
Retired Manteca Police Chief Charlie Halford was in second with 7,978 votes (26.26%) followed by 12-year incumbent Debby Moorhead with 5,083 votes (16.73%). Registered nurse Fred Cunha was fourth with 4,537 votes (14.92%). David Martin had 3,115 votes (10.25%).
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.