Thousands of mail-in ballots that could have made a difference in the tight primary election for state Controller have been invalidated because they showed up at registrars’ offices too late to count. Fresno’s mayor, Republican Ashley Swearengin, finished first and will be in November’s general election. The contest for the second spot has swung back and forth between two Democrats — former Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, from the Bay Area. With more than 3.9 million ballots counted, Perez led by fewer than 1,800 votes Tuesday afternoon. The total has been changing several times a day since the June 3 primary as California’s 58 county registrars send updates to the Secretary of State.
Some 20,735 ballots arrived at registrars’ offices too late to be counted, said Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill Levine. She has been keeping a statewide tally on behalf of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, which is monitoring the performance of the state’s mail-in ballot program. Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles led the list of counties with the most ballots turned in too late to count.
In a race as close as the controller’s, all those tardy mail-in votes make a difference, said voting records analyst Paul Mitchell.
“In some cases we are seeing one to one-and-a-half percent of the ballots being late,” Mitchell said. “And we’re looking at a controller’s race that right now is separated by eight-one-thousandth of a percent.”