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It’s still too early to call California midterm election results. Here’s why.

Workers use a machine to sort ballots at the Sacramento County Registrar's office, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
Andrew Nixon
Workers use a machine to sort ballots at the Sacramento County Registrar's office, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

The outcomes of many state and local races in California are still too close to call, and it could be days — or weeks — before we know final results.

By the end of election night, Sacramento County had tallied more than 140,000 votes, but it will likely count hundreds of thousands more. That means it’s still far too early to call races separated by a hundred or even a few thousand votes.

“I can tell you from what I saw with my own eyes, we still have a lot of ballots to still get through and that doesn’t even count what’s going to come in the mail the next few days,” Sacramento County elections spokesperson Janna Haynes told CapRadio on Wednesday morning.

In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that requires county election officials to send every eligible voter in California a mail-in ballot. An estimated 91% of voters opted to mail in their ballots in the state’s June primary election, according to data from the California Secretary of State.

This process, however, slows the state’s ability to tabulate results, as mailed ballots take longer to arrive and process. State law requires counties to count all mail ballots that arrive up to seven days after the polls close, as long as those ballots are postmarked by election day.

“It does take a while to get through all of the conditional voter registrations that came in over the last 11 days, as well as anybody who submitted a vote by mail ballot that didn't have a signature or the signature didn't match,” Haynes said. “We'll take every moment that we need to in order to make sure everything is processed and accurate.”

Sacramento County will provide updated results on Fridays and Tuesdays until all ballots are counted.

The next update is expected by 4 p.m. on Friday.

Since 2015, Chris Nichols has worked as CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter where he fact-checks politicians in the Golden State both on-air and online. His work includes debunking social media misinformation and explaining complex statewide topics from California’s affordable housing and homelessness crises to election issues.
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