"I voted" stickers in a variety of languages were offered at county Registrar of Voters Office. Photo by Chris Stone
“I voted” stickers in a variety of languages were offered at county Registrar of Voters Office. Photo by Chris Stone

The initial release of election results Tuesday might amount to 30 percent of the total vote, but counting could continue to 5 a.m. or after on Wednesday, later than usual, San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said Monday.

Vu said as many as 400,000 ballots that were mailed in, dropped off or submitted in early voting at the registrar’s Kearny Mesa office will be included in the first results, to be released shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

In recent elections, the first results have set the tone for the rest of the night, particularly in whether a race will be close or not.

But after that first release of results, the wait will begin.

Large numbers of ballot totals from the precincts aren’t expected to be released until sometime around 11 p.m. Subsequent releases will be dependent on when trucks with ballot boxes arrive at the registrar’s office.

Vu said all the precinct ballots might not arrive until after 1 a.m. and the final unofficial election night results may not be done until after 5 a.m.

He warned that some races might not be decided by the end of the Election Night count. He said that while around a half-million mail ballots have been turned in so far, an additional 150,000 to 200,000 will be dropped off Tuesday.

“This is not really a new phenomenon,” Vu said. “We’re just likely to have a higher volume of outstanding ballots.”

But it could leave tight races up in the air.

“It’s not over on Election Night and it hasn’t been for a long, long time,” Vu said. “Close contests are not decided until all the ballots are in the count.”

He said results for tight races must wait until election workers process, review and inspect every ballot — precinct, provisional, mail-in and damaged.

Adding to the counting workload are numerous races for offices and ballot measures that led to a two-card ballot for the first time locally, a projected turnout of 75 percent or more, a record 1.65 million registered voters in the county and 1,552 polling places in the region, 30 more than the June primary election, the registrar said.

— City News Service