Thousands of votes left to be counted in SLO, Santa Barbara counties

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 23:37:22-05

After Election Night 2020, some races have clear winners while others remain close as thousands of votes continue to be processed.

One race, in particular, that's extremely close is the race for the 35th State Assembly Seat. Incumbent Jordan Cunningham is holding a narrow lead over Dawn Addis, 52% to 48% as of Wednesday evening.

In Santa Barbara County, roughly 59,000 ballots still need to be counted. In San Luis Obispo County, that number was not yet available Wednesday evening.

"We had about 4,500 voters actually vote on Election Day," said Tommy Gong, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder.

In Santa Barbara County, 17,500 people headed to the polls on Tuesday.

But the vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at voter service centers, drop boxes, and conditional or provisional voter registration ballots are the bulk of what still needs to be tallied.

"From an election administrator's point of view, we just continue counting the votes," said Joe Holland, Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder.

Both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County clerk-recorders are hoping to certify the results before Thanksgiving.

"We have a new high-speed scanner that works really well and I know San Luis Obispo has the same equipment," Holland said. "So we're optimistic that we can move through these ballots pretty quick and by Monday probably have all the vote-by-mail done."

The offices have up until 29 days after the election to certify the results.

Once that happens, any voter can ask for a recount within five days.

"Typically, recounts are only called for, in my experience, when there's been a really close race," Holland explained.

But the cost, which can total up to thousands of dollars, is on the voter who requested it.

It's an expensive and labor-intensive process.

"You have one person that holds the ballot up and this is a vote for candidate 'A', somebody else is actually making sure that you're telling the truth that it is a vote for candidate 'A', and then you have two people actually marking down, separately, that it is a vote for candidate 'A,' so you have to go through all of that," Holland said.

He says it's very unusual to have a recount.

The last time there was a recount in Santa Barbara County was back in 2008. In San Luis Obispo County, 2014 marks the most recent recount for Mayor of Pismo Beach.

The clerk-recorders say that the next results update will happen Friday but possibly Monday for Santa Barbara.

As long as ballots are postmarked on Election Day, and received up to 17 days after the election, they're still eligible to be counted.