There were 105,221 votes cast in San Joaquin County left to be counted as of 9 p.m. Friday night 73 hours after polling places closed.
You should be perfectly fine with that.
It is a sign that the system is working.
What some may interpret it as a vote tabulation gone bad is the exact opposite. It is a sign that the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Melinda Dubroff is doing her job. Each vote cast needs the signature and address confirmed. It is a process that can be done much quicker with in-person voting. It is a laborious and painstaking process with mail-in ballots.
To be honest I was more than a bit leery of the decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to have every registered voter receive a mail-in ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn’t too sure it would go smooth.
I should have known better. In the past 46 years I’ve been involved in reporting on the outcome of more than 92 elections. Computer snafus and antiquated equipment that need to be replaced aside, there has not been an occasion where an elections official hasn’t stepped up.
As for mail-in voting, California was a pioneer decades ago in allowing people to apply to “vote absentee” as it was once called for reasons beyond being out of town or severely ill on Election Day. Since 2012 more than half of the ballots cast in California elections have been by mail or via drop-off boxes.
A lot of the people that dropped by polling places I’ve been assigned over the years have done so to simply to drop-off ballots.
Fifteen counties — including Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange — have already been sending mail-in ballots to all of their registered voters since 2016 under the Voters Choice Act. Then there are three counties — Alpine, Sierra, and Plumas — that conduct elections exclusively by mail.
I have never missed an election and I’ve never voted by mail. I continued that streak this election by taking advantage of one of four voting service centers in Manteca. The one I used was at the Manteca Transit Center.
The fact I already had a ballot meant the process of verifying who I am went as quick as they could scan the numeric code using an electronic device.
More than a few people I know who steadfast believe they need to vote in person liked the idea they had four days to drop by any one of the voter service centers to do so.
There were a lot of rumblings before the election about how sending ballots out to all voters would somehow favor Democrats based on data that a higher percentage voted in that manner. The operating theory was based on the assumption the Democrats would pick up more people registered as Democrats to send in ballots who might otherwise have not voted.
That’s theory was toast after the May 12 special election for Congress in Orange County where Republican Mike Garcia won a 100 percent mail-in election.
And based on this week’s election where Democrats appear to be losing their grips on four other California congressional seats, the mail-in ballot as a guaranteed advantage for the Democrats is proving to be utter nonsense.
It’s also great that the turnout is setting records in almost every county. Three out of every four San Joaquin County registered voters cast ballots. What’s wrong with that?
Some dismiss the cost of the $65 million it took to send out the additional ballots this election as excessive. It’s a whimsically small price to pay to make it easier for Californians to vote that have to work long hours or travel long distances to jobs to keep food on the table and tax money flowing to the state so Sacramento has $196 billion to spend.
As for the future, I’d much rather see a printed ballot process retained instead of the state giving into the siren song of digital voting from smart devices simply because it is cutting edge and “super” convenient.
While no system is ironclad the chances for hacking and such it is minimal the way it is set up now. Plus the fact 75 percent of registered voters receiving ballots actually voted should eliminate any fear that requiring some effort to drop a completed ballot into a mail box or drop off box will keep people from voting.
Those arguing for voting by smartphone systems find it unacceptable and borderline repulsive results aren’t known by 8:01 p.m. on the night of an election.
Democracy needs to be deliberate. It’s not something you treat as I’d you are making a post to Facebook or tweeting from the hip. For the same reason you don’t want a jury to return a verdict in less than a minute to decide someone’s fate, you want the process to be deliberate rather than instantaneous.
Elections are not game shows and should not be treated as such.
The backlog of votes yet to be counted in San Joaquin County is more than acceptable as it means verification that the ballots are legitimate.
There are no hanging chads or paperless voting machine snafus. Besides do you want to use a voting machine that can be hacked by bored 14 year olds in The Netherlands?
Yes, there were miscues with the printing and distribution of some ballots. When there can be dozens of ballot combinations within a county and 365,839 registered voters some small scale errors will happen.
It is by far better than if a security or formatting error happens with an app or an online process that could create massive havoc.
Judging by what has been happening in other states, they clearly are not geared up for mail-in voting. Some states make it overly restrictive. Other states simply don’t process mail-in ballots on the scale of California or the five states that already has been conducting elections where ballots are mailed to all registered voters.
How we voted this year needs to become the new norm for California and remain so long after pandemic restrictions are finally lifted.