SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Voting by mail proved to be a convenient option for plenty of Californians in last week’s election. However, they’re finding the process has created an unintended consequence, with some races not likely to be determined for several weeks.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

In fact, elections officials warned it could be up to three weeks before the California Attorney General’s contest was decided.

Republican Steve Cooley and Democrat Kamala Harris continued to swap extremely small leads, with roughly 2 million votes left to be counted.

“Not all ballots are counted on election day in California. And according to state law, counties have 28 days to count every last ballot. Using this year’s calendar, that puts us at November 30,” explained Shannan Velayas with the Secretary of State’s office.

Two congressional campaigns, the Harmer-McNerney race in the 11th district, and the Costa-Vidak contest in the 20th district, also remained undecided.

Velayas chalked it up to the surge in popularity of voting by mail, which increased the amount of time it took counties to finish counting ballots.

“They must go back to the envelope, the vote by mail envelope, and compare the signature that’s on the outside of that envelope to the voter registration file to make sure that those signatures match.”

Most ballots were counted on election day, though plenty were not.

“Counties must count vote by mail ballots, provisional ballots and damaged ballots,” emphasized Velayas. “Counties must verify voter records and determine if the ballots have been cast by eligible voters.”

“It is a time consuming process, it’s a labor intensive process, which is why the state law allows counties 28 days to complete that process and count every last ballot.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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