Election night sees long lines and delayed vote counts in Berkeley

Jan Flatley-Feldman/Staff
A long line forms at Unit 2, as people wait to vote.

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UC Berkeley students and city residents turned out at the polls en masse Tuesday night to cast their votes, while just under half of Alameda County’s mail-in and provisional ballots continue to be tabulated.

As of Wednesday, just over half of the votes of people registered to vote in Alameda County had been processed, with only 414,992 votes processed of the 810,836 registered voters countywide, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Of the processed votes, nearly a quarter of them were mail-in ballots, and a little more than a quarter of the votes were cast in person at polls.

Campus freshman Bryan Chiou said the process of casting his ballot took more than an hour because the line of 100 to 150 people in front of him was wrapped around the building. Chiou said the process by which poll workers confirmed each voter’s eligibility was time-consuming and contributed to the delay.

“I kind of thought about leaving because it was taking so long, but I felt obligated to vote because it was my first time,” Chiou said. “I did have the temptation to walk away at one point, but I ended up voting.”

Mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls and provisional ballots are still being processed, according to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald. He did not have the final voter turnout numbers yet but estimated that the total will be less than the 78 percent of voters who turned out for the 2008 election.

“The election is not over until every single ballot is counted — there is a misconception that provisional ballots only get counted if it is a close vote, but that is not the case,” he said.

Because of the close margins of some of the local ballot measures, the final decision may be delayed because a large percentage of votes are still being processed.

Measure T, which would rezone parts of West Berkeley, was narrowly defeated with 50.19 percent of voters opposed as of midnight Tuesday. However, that number can change, as there is now less than a 26-person difference.

Similarly, election results for rent board candidates have been thrown into flux as the total votes for third, fourth and fifth place candidates remain extremely close and could potentially change when new votes are counted.

The registrar of voters has 28 days to process all the votes, although the process is completed on a relatively quicker timeframe, Macdonald said.

Berkeley city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said the city will be waiting until the registrar has certified the election results before swearing in newly elected officials or implementing voter-approved measures.

Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected].