The waiting game has been excruciating for those watching a tight City Council race in Turlock.
Stanislaus County’s Registrar of Voters Office last updated the count Nov. 15, a full two weeks ago. Nothing has changed. Councilman Steven Nascimento holds onto a four-vote lead over Councilwoman Amy Bublak in District 4.
Some believe the Yosemite Community College District contest between Jon Rodriguez and Tom Hallinan is too close to call. Rodriguez holds a 130-vote lead over the Area 7 incumbent.
Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan said she doubted her office would have an update Tuesday. That will mean more waiting for a public that’s accustomed to consuming up-to-the-minute news on the Internet.
Lundrigan has said her office legally has until Dec. 8 to release final results.
One county supervisor said he wishes the process would speed up. “We have not had an update since the 15th,” said Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who serves as an Election Day observer. “Once a week, there should be an update. People like to see that.”
DeMartini noted that San Joaquin County has posted more frequent updates since the Nov. 8 election. San Joaquin County’s last update was Wednesday. That county has 334,000 registered voters, far more than the 241,000 in Stanislaus.
John Lazar, former mayor of Turlock, noted that elected council members in Turlock are sworn in the first and only council meeting in December.
“With the technology today, you wonder why it takes so long, but patience is a virtue,” Lazar said.
In a news release last week, Lundrigan said her office had finished examining 3,000 “miscellaneous” ballots, which needed to be opened and flattened before they are counted. Instead of counting those ballots, Lundrigan said she would hold them until staff members are done with processing 13,000 provisional ballots, or maybe until next week.
“We don’t just count a couple of (different types of ballots),” Lundrigan said. “We put them though at one time. I thought the public expectation was to be accurate.”
DeMartini, who has a long history of watching election counts, said there is an unusually large number of provisionals. Those ballots are given to people whose names are not on voter rosters at polling places. After Election Day, officials must ensure that people given a provisional ballot were registered or did not vote twice.
County residents also waited for weeks after the June primary for final tallies, with the delays blamed on newer voting laws that create extra work for election officials. Long delays in getting election results could be the new normal unless the process is changed or more resources are devoted.
“The only solution to speeding this up is putting a few more people on it,” DeMartini said. “I would be fine with that.”
In news releases this month, Lundrigan has told of other work her office has done. For example, staff members had worked on processing stipends for election officers who devoted time to the presidential election.
Employees also were doing a manual count on 1 percent of precincts to verify computerized counts were accurate.
Office closures for the Thanksgiving holiday and Veterans Day also interrupted the labors of election personnel.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321