Race between Valadao and Cox too close to call, ballots still being counted

Election

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KSEE) – All eyes are still on the race for the 21st Congressional District seat between Republican David Valadao and Democrat incumbent TJ Cox.

As of Monday at 5:30 p.m., Valadao is ahead of Cox by less than 5,000 votes, according to the Associated Press.

In 2018, the election wasn’t decided until weeks after the ballots were cast. Cox beat Valadao by just 862 votes.

The 21st Congressional District represents Kings County and parts of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. There are still thousands of ballots left to be processed and counted in those counties.

In Fresno County, according to the county’s election’s page, about 38,340 ballots still to be processed.

In Tulare County, according to the county’s election’s program coordinator, there are about 26,000 still to be processed.

In Kings County, according to the secretary of state’s website, there are about 1,500 still to be processed.

In Kern County, according to the county clerk, there are about 143,000 ballots left to process.

However, it’s unclear how many of those ballots are from voters who live in the 21st Congressional District.

“Until they get processed, we don’t know who those ballots belong to and what districts they’re in,” said Emily Oliveira, Tulare County’s election’s program coordinator.

Oliveira says it’s a manual process that involves three phases. She says there’s a team in charge of signature verification, a team dedicated to opening the envelope and flattening the ballot, and others dedicated to tabulating.

“On any given day, we could expect a couple thousand ballots to get through the entire process and tabulated,” Oliveira said. “Each and every one of those ballots have to be pulled out of those envelopes by hand, unfolded, and then that way they can be prepared to go into the tabulator scanner.”

In addition to the ballots left to process, the counties could also still receive ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3 and are received by Nov. 20.

“We still necessarily don’t have all the ballots in our office yet,” Kern County Clerk Mary Bedard said.

Bedard said she hopes the county will have more results updates soon and hopes to have a lot of the ballots processed sometime next week.

“We’re just processing them as fast as we can. We are trying to get updates out fairly regularly,” she said.

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