Sac County Elections Still Has Large Backlog of Ballots to Count, Could Affect Sheriff's Race

June 6, 2018 | 

Even though news organizations ranging from the Sacramento Bee to the Associated Press have called all the major races in Sacramento County, there is still a substantial backlog of ballots to count at the Sacramento County Board of Elections.

According to an employee reached this afternoon, county employees still have up to 220,000 ballots that need to be processed and counted and have only completed processing on about 120,000. The employee, who identified himself as Jeff, said an update of the results showing significant ballots would be posted on the county's site either Thursday or Friday afternoon.

A review of the county's election results pages showed a tally updated at 2:25 pm today, but totals votes in key races such as the Sheriff's contest, has not changed. Part of the challenge of updating the information stems from the recently enacted Voters Choice Act voting system in Sacramento County.

While voters in Sacramento County have been offered a longer voting time frame and more options than traditional precinct and absentee voting, processing of the ballots is significantly slower. In conventional precinct voting, ballots are scanned and tabulated as they are submitted by voters.

In the new system, the elections workers have to open all the ballots, adjudicate them, then place them though vote counting scanner devices to tabulate results. This ballot handling process has slowed the counting.

While most races have a large enough sampling to determine winners, these extra votes could have significance in the race for Sacramento County Sheriff. While Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones will undoubtedly come in first place, his percentage of the total votes casts could change.

With roughly one-third of the vote counted, Jones has a 54-percent lead in the four-candidate race. Donna Cox and Milo Fitch are following Jones with each capturing about 20-percent, and Bret Daniels has roughly five-percent.

While Jones will win first place, given a large number of uncounted ballots, it is conceivable that his total could drop to less than 50-percent. If Jones' totals fall below 50-percent, he will be forced into a runoff in November; if he maintains his current margin over 50-percent, he will be declared the outright victor and not be forced into a run-off. 

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