WAITING GAME: What is the status of California’s ballot counting one week after Election Day?

It has been one week since Election Day, and the ballot counting process in California is still ongoing as Republicans remain one seat away from winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Nine races across The Golden State have yet to be called, with the uncertain margin of a likely Republican majority hanging in the balance. However, a deeper look into the state’s election processes provides insight into what is causing the delayed results.

California is a predominately vote-by-mail state, meaning every registered voter is automatically mailed a ballot 29 days prior to Election Day. If they choose to participate in the election, voters then fill out their ballot, sign an outer envelope, and mail it back to their county election officials or drop it off at a ballot drop box or drop off location.

Voters may also opt to drop off their completed ballot at an in-person polling location on Election Day while polls are open.

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Ballots are received, sorted and verified at the Los Angeles County ballot processing facility in Industry, California.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Election officials are authorized to immediately begin processing returned ballots within the 29 days prior to Election Day that vote-by-mail is taking place; however, no results are allowed to be reported until the state’s polls close on Election Night.

Ballots can be received by election officials as late as Tuesday, Nov. 15, as long as they were postmarked on or before Election Day.

Processing the ballots involves verifying each voter’s signature on the outer envelope before removing the ballot to have it counted. This can take a significant amount of time considering millions of mail-in ballots were returned before, on and after Election Day. This includes ballots sent from overseas.

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Results are then released from each individual county as they are tabulated. Each county is required to update the California Secretary of State’s office on the number of unprocessed ballots remaining on the second day after the election, and every day beginning the sixth day after the election.

California does not offer in-person early voting.

Tuesday is the final day mail-in ballots can be accepted by election officials.

U.S. Capitol Building
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans have won 217 seats to Democrats’ 205 as of Tuesday afternoon. A party must win 218 seats to reach a majority in the 435-seat body.

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The race for California’s 34th Congressional District was not included in the nine races yet to be called since the race is between two Democratic candidates. Fox News has already credited Democrats with the win and included it in their count of 205.