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News > World

Over 1.3 Million California Ballots Still Haven't Been Counted

  • Chalk writing remains on the pavement at the front door of a Bernie Sanders campaign office in El Cajon, California, June 10, 2016.

    Chalk writing remains on the pavement at the front door of a Bernie Sanders campaign office in El Cajon, California, June 10, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 June 2016

According to the latest results, Bernie Sanders is behind Hillary Clinton in the California primary by 467,130 votes, less than half the number of uncounted ballots.

As Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton look ahead to the Democratic National Convention next month, a total of over 1.3 million ballots remain uncounted in California as of Thursday, over a week after the high-stakes primary that Sander supporters hoped could give the campaign a much-needed real and symbolic boost to close out the nominating campaign.

Bernie Sanders Promises to Keep ‘Political Revolution’ Alive

Clinton clinched a win over Sanders on June 7 in California, the largest state in the union where 475 pledged delegates were up for grabs.

But Election Day results didn’t take all the votes into account.

According to California Secretary of State data reporting on unprocessed ballots, as of Thursday a total of 1,339,438 ballots in the state remain uncounted. That number has been slowly inching downward since news surfaced in the days after the primary that more than 2 million ballots had not been accounted for.

But the total could also grow once again, since a number of counties last reported before the June 10 cut-off date to receive more mail-in ballots.

According to the Washington Post, Clinton was declared the winner of the California primary with just 3.5 million ballot counted, even though as many as 8.9 million ballots were cast in the Democratic primary.

Election Day results reporting closed out the race at a count of 1,940,580 votes for Clinton versus 1,502,043 for Sanders, or a margin of 55.8 percent to 43.2 percent.

But since then, as tens of thousands of additional ballots continue to be counted, Sanders’ support has tightened that margin by about 2 percent.

According to California Secretary of State election returns as of Thursday, the results now sit at 54.8 percent for Clinton versus 44.3 percent for Sanders, lagging behind the front runner by 467,130 votes. The trend could mean that the Vermont Senator will continue to gain ground in the more than one million ballots still outstanding.

What's Next After Sanders? Seeds of Political Movement Building

Part of the reason for the delayed ballot counting is that California has moved toward a mail-in ballot system that may help with voter turnout but is slow to report.

Controversy bubbled around the California primary after the Associated Press and NBC called the nomination for Clinton the night before the election, a move that critics argue likely discouraged Sanders voters from heading to the polls and some labeled de facto voter suppression.

Meanwhile, many experts also deemed California’s semi-open primary system highly confusing and criticized authorities for failing to provide sufficient and effective communication to inform unaffiliated voters—often referred to as independents outside of California—of how to participate in the Democratic or another party’s primary. Sanders is known to benefit when independent voters are able to participate.

While more votes in California would not propel Sanders to be able to challenge Clinton’s insurmountable delegate lead, supporters are nevertheless insistent on principle that every vote should be counted and reported in California.

A win for Sanders in California, or even a tighter margin loss, would nevertheless send a strong message to Clinton and the Democratic party establishment, which has pressured Sanders to drop out of the race and fears he could potentially contest the nomination.

It could also embolden the upstart candidate to push for reforms to the primary system and a historically progressive platform at the Democratic National Conference next month, not to mention envigour his millions of supporters nationwide to keep the movement alive.

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