Roughly 28 percent of the total votes cast in Tuesday’s election still needed to be counted as of late Wednesday afternoon, according to figures from the Orange County Registrar of Voters Office, enough to possibly sway the outcome in a very tight race.

There is a slim chance that still-uncounted ballots could play a role in the Congressional contest between sitting Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and state Assemblyman Van Tran. The two candidates for the 47th District House of Representatives seat were separated by 6,600 votes as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

In a Fullerton City Council race, just 42 votes separated front-runner Doug Chaffee from former Police Chief Pat McKinley.

Absentee ballots accounted for the majority of the 258,196 still to be counted — the rest were provisional ballots and paper ballots cast at polling places.

This election showed yet again that people are increasingly voting by mail rather than going to a polling place on Election Day.

Since 2002, the number of voters casting absentee ballots has been climbing. In the June primary, for the first time in a major Orange County election, absentee voters outnumbered those who went to the polls, 18.4 percent to 11.7 percent.

Election officials stress the importance of just estimating the remaining ballots because some may turn out to be invalid. Just which precincts are responsible for how many uncounted ballots, isn’t known. The figures are countywide.

It could take several days before there is a final tally of all 912,045 votes cast countywide — each day the registrar updates the vote count on its website.

A total of 44,800 of the uncounted ballots were provisional. This is an important number to Sanchez, who said there were an unusually high number of Santa Ana voters who had to vote provisionally because of confusion over where they were supposed to vote.

Absentee ballots that were mailed and remained to be counted totaled about 76,076 countywide, according to the Registrar’s figures and another roughly 112,320 were turned in at the polls instead of being mailed. About 25,000 paper ballots were cast on Election Day.

Turnout seems to be just a bit higher than Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley predicted.

He estimated before the election that 50 percent to 55 percent of Orange County’s 1,603,312 eligible voters would cast ballots. If the estimates of votes still to be counted hold up, about 56 percent of those eligible will have voted.


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