Election Day extends into weeks for Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Election Day is extending into the rest of this week and probably next week as well.

The Fresno County elections office released numbers at the end of the night Tuesday, but they haven't counted about 40% of the ballots.

County clerk Brandi Orth estimates about 80,000 ballots are still outstanding, which is actually fewer than they had on the day after the November 2018 election, but still plenty to potentially change a few races.

Election Day started with universal delays and ended with isolated issues.

Fresno County computers lost connection with the state's computers before noon, causing delays of about an hour for voters across the county.

"We got over that hurdle and then the rest of the day really went very smoothly," Orth said. "Voters did wait until the end of the day. There were some lines out there, but everything seemed to go well."

For 2020, the county left polling places in the past and moved to vote centers, which are open for several days, but aren't nearly as numerous.

Orth said people cast 26,549 votes at the 53 vote centers, so only 13.5% of the ballots came at the polls instead of by mail.

Election workers turned in memory cards at the end of the night instead of paper ballots and the night ended a lot earlier than in years past.

But the work was just getting underway, as Orth showed Action News at the county's elections warehouse Wednesday.

"As you can see, we've already fired up all the lines," Orth said. "We're already working on it and it's just a process."

The process requires several computers and more than 50 employees, most of them seasonal.

They're handling mostly vote by mail ballots handed in on Election Day and provisional ballots -- checking signatures, taking ballots out of the envelopes, unfolding them, and then feeding them into a computer for tabulating.

Orth is estimating voter turnout at almost 42%, which is up from the 2016 primary, but she's hopeful to have final numbers quickly.

"There's a lot of activity going on here," she said. "I know everyone is anxious for results, but it's good that the process remains consistent through everything."

People waiting anxiously will get a big batch of new numbers March 6 at 3 p.m., then March 10, and then on March 12 Orth hopes to have pretty much every ballot counted.

She has 30 days to certify the election.
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