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Absentee Ballots Delay Final Tally

An unprecedented number of San Diegans voted by mail this year, and, although the trend was credited with alleviating long lines at polling places, it also means the final vote count won’t be in until Thursday morning. As a result, particularly tight races could hang in the balance until then.

About 261,000 county residents--half Democrats, half Republicans--requested mail-in ballots this year, a figure 2 1/2 times the previous record and 20% of the projected voter turnout here.

By Tuesday morning, 159,811 absentee ballots had been turned in, and officials had those processed and counted by 9 p.m.

But, throughout the day, still more mail-in ballots were arriving at the post office and at polling places around the county. Those ballots are believed to number 30,000 to 40,000, but the total won’t be official until 10 a.m. Thursday.

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“We’ll have three crews working around the clock to count the remaining absentee ballots, but it’s a slow process,” Assistant Registrar of Voters Keith Boyer said.

According to Boyer’s projections, about 61,000 of the 261,000 people who requested absentee ballots failed to return them before the deadline--8 p.m. Tuesday. That, apparently, is not unusual.

“Typically, about 80% of those who say they’re going to vote by mail follow through and do it,” Boyer said. In 1984, that figure was 83%.


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