Super Tuesday: The Story Out of California Will Be ‘The Delay’ in Ballot Counts

by on March 3, 2020 · 2 comments

in California, Election

By Doug Porter/ Words&Deeds / March 3, 2020

The horse race metaphor will reach peak silliness over the next day or so as election results are presented in the media. I get it that this method is a useful construct for reporting; using it as the sole measure of a political process falls short of presenting the bigger picture.

There are more people voting in California than ever before, and more of us are voting in advance of election day. We have wisely encouraged voter participation, making it easy as possible for casting a ballot, and backed it up with systems –we’re told– prevent fraud.

While we’ll have an idea of the overall outcome on presidential candidacies late on election night, the final count may take days or weeks. Each of the 58 counties in California could be  processing its own ballots until April 3. The secretary of state then has until April 10 to certify those statewide results.

The lack of a quick conclusion makes writing definitive stories and headlines difficult. So it’s safe to say the delay in the process will become the story.

Although officials in the state consider this methodology more of a feature than a bug, it’s just not very exciting.

State law says vote-by-mail ballots can be received up to three days after election day, as long as they are postmarked on or before election day. So county election officials will still be receiving valid ballots on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Vote data can’t be transmitted online, and machines can’t be connected to the internet for security. Every polling place offers same day registration opportunities for the 4.5 million Californians who are eligible but didn’t sign up. Each of those ballots, plus changes from non-partisan ballots to those of the political parties that allow it, must be verified.

This lag will undoubtedly draw the conspiracy set to spread their theories. I figure it’s 50-50 that Trump will amplify their paranoia. Other actors with an interest in denigrating democracy, ranging from nations to nihilists will stoke the fires of uncertainty and distrust.

Conservatives, who mask their unhappiness with universal suffrage by devising ways to make electoral participation more difficult, will opine and whine about California’s system. Making America Great Again involving limiting voting to property-owning white males is what they talk about when meetings are closed to the public.

Jonah Goldberg is first out of the gate in the Los Angeles Times with “Early voting is a terrible idea, and California’s primary proves it,” 

  • “No journalist would file a report predicting election results a month before the vote — things are just too in flux at that point. But for some bizarre reason, we think it’s a great idea for voters to blindly cast their ballots up to 46 days before they’re due.” 


Having two dominant parties and very little room for anybody else in elections fosters a standard bearer ethos whereby people’s identities become defined to some degree by the candidate they support.

What over-anxious partisans and many talking heads fail to recognize is that presidential (and other chief executive) races are about electing an administration. 

Trump and his cronies are governing by gutting decision makers in just about every branch of government. This enables corruption, diminishes checks and balances, and makes ruling by decree more effective, as court challenges can take months while bad policies continue unabated.

The easiest example of this practice involves the Federal Elections Commission. Wanna cheat at an election? Go right ahead! There hasn’t been a quorum on its board for months and MoscowMitch is happy as heck about it.

Should campaign cheating reach the point where there are obvious criminal violations, the Justice Department will be making the decisions about who sees the inside of a courtroom. We’re currently re-litigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for emails and the results of the South Carolina primary have spurred renewed interest in Hunter Biden’s past.

Does anybody really think former Congressman Duncan Hunter’s crimes would have been prosecuted if the present Attorney General was in charge two years ago?

Getting back to the topic of the pending elections, pondering the way a presidential candidate would staff her administration is a good lens to use in deciding to cast a vote.

The consolidation of politicos around the Biden candidacy gives me cause to think decisions are being contemplated about roles people could play in an administration. 

My big fear about Biden, et al, would be their unwillingness to get to the root of corruption and malfeasance in the name of  “moving forward.”

My big fear about Bernie is that he’ll not have the experienced and decisive kind of staff needed to get things accomplished in DC.

Bloomberg, I fear, thinks the government can be run like a business. There is no way to put people’s needs first if you’re unwilling to change basic priorities beyond looking at financial considerations.

Readers should know by now that I’m in the tank for Warren. My reasoning beyond admiring her strength of character and political philosophy is that I think she’ll get the most done.

(I’m no longer on her California list of supporters, since I had to tell the GOTV team to stop texting me about my polling location. I’ve already voted and the registrar has acknowledged receiving my ballot.)

Reactionaries have been scheming for decades about moving the clock back to the days when men were men, sheep were afraid, and the wealthy could do what they wanted. The easiest way to look at their effectiveness is to look at the rapid expansion of the wealth gap in America starting in 1980.

You can’t just paper over our inequality crisis with high and mighty sounding political speeches or protests outside the capitol.

And that brings me to my final points.

  • I intend to support the winner of the Democratic primary. I ask anybody who thinks otherwise to consider the children in cages along the border, the increasing terror being directed at those considered part of the “other,” and saving what we have left of democracy. If we have to take baby steps, so be it.
  • Regardless of who wins the nomination or election, the rest of the people on the ballot are important for moving away from where we stand today. We need a diverse field of bold progressives who are willing to try new solutions to our problems. Putting all your eggs in the “presidential” basket is a fool’s errand.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie March 3, 2020 at 1:18 pm

I wish to thank Doug Porter for all the research and analysis he has done for this Calif primary.


Keith M March 3, 2020 at 6:23 pm

I second that. Doug, your research and writing are invaluable. Thank you so much.


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