BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – If you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the results of certain down-ballot races, chill out. You’re not going to get any satisfaction for several days. And even predicting which direction things may go based on what’s left to count is fraught is danger.
We are a long, long way from final results and it’s pretty much impossible at this point to make any intelligent predictions on where things might go based on what we know about the uncounted votes.
Network analysts are able to look at maps and speculate on how various races might change based on which specific precincts in a given county or state remain uncounted.
That’s not really possible in Kern County, though, because all of the Election Day live-vote precincts are in and have been counted – and we saw that tabulation late on Election Night.
We’re not waiting for the conservative Rosedale vote to come in, for example, or the liberal Delano vote, because those live, in-person ballots and the mail-in votes cast from those areas of the county weeks ago, have already been logged on the big board.
Except for provisional ballots, which ultimately may or may not be counted, all that’s left to tabulate are the mail-in ballots received Monday and Tuesday, Election Day.
How many votes is that? Election officials don’t know yet, and won’t know with anything approaching certainty until they provide the Secretary of State, as required, with an estimate.
But the rough-rough-rough estimate, subject to change, could be as many as 100,000 votes, maybe even more, because they were just wheeled through the door in the last 72 hours.
So that race you’re fretting about, the one separating your candidate or your issue from victory by a handful of votes? Forget about it.
You won’t know for a couple of days – at a minimum – and predicting is close to impossible.
Are Democrats or Republicans more likely to hold their ballots until the last day or two? Perhaps those late-mailed ballots are from independently minded voters who wanted as much information as possible leading up to the drop dead deadline, voters who aren’t the type to just mark all the R’s or mark all the D’s.
Perhaps they’re procrastinators. Whatever they are, there are tens upon tens of thousands of them and sorting them, comparing signatures, opening envelopes and feeding them into the counting machines – will take days.
Assessor-Recorder County Clerk Mary Bidard, who also serves as the registrar of voters, says it really comes down to the timing.
“It’s really just a function of when people decide to turn in their ballots,” she said. “And again, obviously, we do have some people turning them in early. The majority always comes in on Election Day.”
So they’re coming in from all over the county? You can’t say “Precinct 321 is yet to be counted?”
“Right,” Bidard said.
Aimee Espinoza is the Kern County Assessor-Recorder- elect – Bidard’s successor come Jan. 2, having just won a nail-biter of an election herself in June. She knows all about the false promise of an Election Night lead.
“Even in my race for the primary I had people calling me and texting me as soon as the first results were posted,” she said. “‘Congratulations, congratulations.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks, but there’s still a whole load of ballots that still need to be counted, and so I’m just going to sit and wait until it’s done.’ You know, signed, sealed, delivered.”
And what started as a strong, encouraging election night lead dwindled to a 1 percentage point victory. Her advice to candidates, whether they’re ahead or behind at this stage?
Follow her lead and don’t get too excited either way.
The votes in several Kern County races, as we see them now, are very close. In one case, a single vote. What does that mean? At this point, not a whole lot.