It doesn’t appear that the final votes which have yet to be counted will have an effect on the outcome of the vote on California’s Proposition 8 which would ban same-sex marriage.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Roughly 2.7 million ballots from Tuesday’s election remained to be counted statewide as of late Friday, according to the California secretary of state’s office.
The complete, county-by-county list is available on the secretary of state’s website. Last week, Times reporters contacted the state’s largest counties and reported that at least 1.7 million ballots remained outstanding. Since then, several of the counties, including Los Angeles, have increased their estimates. L.A. officials reported to the secretary of state that they had more than 615,000 ballots yet to count.
Where do all those ballots come from, and why does counting them take so long?
Statewide, about 1.9 million were mail-in ballots that were received too late to be counted on Tuesday. Those ballots can be processed relatively quickly.
But 728,000 were provisional ballots, generally cast by people whose names did not show up on their precincts’ registration lists. Those ballots need to be processed by hand, with officials checking to see if the person who voted was entitled to do so.
Then there is another group of at least 146,000 ballots that were damaged or for some reason could not be read by optical scanners. Those also have to be handled individually.
With all those ballots outstanding, how can news organizations, including The Times, be confident about calling the results of elections? The answer is a matter of odds.
Take Proposition 8 as an example. As of Saturday morning, the secretary of state reported 5,661,583 votes in favor and 5,154,457 opposed, for a margin of just more than half a million votes. In order to reverse that result, opponents of the measure would have to win just more than 59% of the uncounted ballots. So far, however, opponents have won 47.6% of the vote. The odds are strongly against the uncounted ballots being so dramatically different from the ones counted.
By comparison, Proposition 11, the redistricting initiative backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a 133,952-vote margin of victory so far.
Opponents would have to win about 52% of the remaining vote to turn around the result — still a high hurdle but perhaps achievable. For that reason, The Times has not declared a winner in that race.