Politics · Stockton

Scanning issues bring ballot counting to a crawl in San Joaquin County

San Joaquin County is dealing with tens of thousands of damaged ballots following Tuesday’s primary elections, resulting in a significantly slowed down counting process.

Heading into the election, the county revealed that a large number of ballots are considered to be damaged or defective because of the method used to print barcodes on the vote-by-mail ballots.

The ballots are currently being duplicated to ensure that each vote is counted correctly.

That process involves two people who are under camera surveillance to ensure that the votes are cast, which provides for a longer tabulation time.

As of last Saturday, San Joaquin County received 42,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were supposed to post on election day.

But only 15,000 ballots actually posted due to a scanning issue. 

The county also received an additional 77,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Tuesday. 

In a statement, the county said that it speculates that a large number of people held onto their vote-by-mail ballots until election day “because of concerns about mail timeliness and wanted to make sure their ballot arrived properly.” 

The county expects 25-30 percent of the ballots will be rejected due to the scanning issue, extending the counting time yet again. 

The county noted that only 7,000 people voted in person at a polling place, which equates to 0.5 percent of San Joaquin County’s registered voters.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.