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Officials: Up to 35,000 Sonoma County ballots still to be counted

  • At the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters in Santa Rosa, Debra Russotti and Ibon Suazo sort out mail in ballots by hand, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Sonoma County workers Wednesday set about the laborious task of counting and verifying tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.

Bins of uncounted ballots in the Registrar of Voters' warehouse vividly illustrated the numbers of envelopes yet to be opened and examined by a staff of up to 24 election workers committed to the task.

It likely will take the full 31 days permitted by law to count them, said Janice Atkinson, county elections chief.

Election night in Petaluma


That will delay the naming of victors in at least three local elections, and none of the results for any race or ballot measure will be official until that final certification.

In recent general elections, roughly 35,000 mail-in ballots arrive in the mail or hand-delivered to one of the county's 194 polling places on Election Day, making them the last to be counted.

It appeared Wednesday that those numbers would hold true again, said Atkinson, a 40-year veteran of the registrar's office.

"Does it seem to be about usual? Yes, so far," she said.

At the Santa Rosa Veterans Building — Precinct 3112 — 618 mail-in ballots were turned in Tuesday, a record for a single polling station, Atkinson said.

"That's an incredible number," she said.

In total, 184,671 absentee ballots were mailed out to Sonoma County voters — or 71 percent of the county's registered voters — and about 122,000 of those were returned in time to be counted Tuesday.

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