UPDATE AT 2:20 A.M.. WEDNESDAY:
Riverside County now ranks No. 1 worst in the state for percentage of votes counted.
The Registrar of Voters has counted 42.6 percent of its votes and is now behind San Bernardino County (45.2 percent) and Kings County (54.9 percent), according to the update from the California Secretary of State.
Statewide, 79.9 percent of ballots have been counted. Only 12 of the state’s 58 counties were still counting ballots as of the 2:15 a.m. update.
UPDATE AT 1:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY:
Riverside County now ranks No. 3 worst out of 58 counties in the state for percentage of votes counted.
More than five hours after polls closed, Riverside County Registrar of Voters has counted 36.5 percent of its votes. It’s reporting 332,003 ballots have been counted, 79 percent of which were vote-by-mail ballots.
Statewide, 38 counties are now done counting ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
San Bernardino and Kings counties are the only ones with a smaller percentage of votes counted.
More than three hours after polls closed, Riverside County ranks No. 44 in the state for the number of votes tallied.
The California Secretary of State tracks the 58 counties and provides the number of precincts reporting, the time of the county’s first report and the time of the most recent report.
Sixteen other counties were done counting ballots as Riverside County had fewer than one-third of its votes counted.
Results come in batches
Riverside County released its vote-by-mail tallies first, which tallied 262,676 votes, starting about 8:15 p.m. It then added a small batch of Riverside-based voters and ballots from early voting at malls.
The first ballots began to arrive at the Riverside office about 9:15 p.m., and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department helped shuttle ballots there, the registrar posted on Facebook at 9:42 p.m.
It released a new batch of results at 10:21 p.m. — 7,864 ballots, or a 3 percent increase in the number of votes counted. That batch was from 70 precincts across the county, including Banning, Coronoa, Hemet and Temecula.
The only desert precincts added to that update came from five polling sites in Palm Springs, according to the registrar’s Facebook page. None of the Coachella Valley races saw notable change.
Riverside County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil said the ballot counting could take until noon Wednesday.
“As you know, poll workers must follow steps required by law before they can begin sending ballots to the Registrar’s office in Riverside for counting. That closing procedure means the first few results included few if any polling place ballots. This is no different than in the past,” she wrote in a 12:32 a.m. email Wednesday responding to Desert Sun inquiries about the delay in vote tallies.
“The pace of ballots coming in from our large county drives the speed of the updates for results,” she continued, noting that Riverside County spans 7,200 square miles.
Riverside County has history of being last in state to report
Verjil, who was hired in February 2011, succeeded Barbara Dunmore, who was fired just days after the November 2010 election amid widespread criticism.
During Dunmore’s tenure, Riverside County was, more than once, the last in California to report its election results. Both candidates and voters had grown accustomed to waiting long hours for updates and days for final results.
The delayed results, combined with a lack of election night communication, even prompted state and federal legislators from across the country to urge supervisors to take action.