Thousands of mail-in ballots are being invalidated in California elections because they arrive too late to be counted, government officials and political experts said Monday. In the state’s June 3 primary, Los Angeles County received about 2,400 mail-in ballots after the Election Day deadline — the close of polls — making them ineligible to be tallied. The number of latecomers invalidated in Santa Cruz County was nearly 600, all postmarked on or before the election. The postmark isn’t the deciding factor — the cutoff is the close of polls, when election officials must have the ballots in-hand. In a state with nearly 18 million registered voters, the figures for late-arriving ballots are relatively tiny, but even small numbers can make a difference in tight races.
Votes are still being counted in the too-close-to-call state controller’s contest. Former Assembly Speaker John Perez is leading by a few hundred votes over Board of Equalization member Betty Yee in their battle for a second runoff spot to challenge Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, according to unofficial returns.
“The only thing worse than not voting is people trying to vote and having their ballots go uncounted,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation, which has been researching the unwelcome trend.