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Number of Mail-In, Drop-Off Ballots Slows Count in Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO -- Three days after California's June primary election and 189,000 votes are left to process in Sacramento County -- more than half the ballots cast.

Voter turnout could reach 45 percent -- which would be unusually high for a non-presidential election -- is contributing to the slow count. But another major factor: the unprecedented quantity of mailed and drop-off ballots, along with the timing of when voters returned them.

"As we move towards all-mail ballot elections, the results will depend on when a voter sent in their ballots," Sacramento County Interim Registrar of Voters Alice Jarboe said. "And that just means it will take a few more days even two weeks to get all of these wonderful ballots into the vote counting stream."

Of the roughly 340,000 ballots cast, less than 10 percent of people filled out ballots in person, and the mail-in and drop off ballots simply take longer for staff to process because there is more verification involved, Jarboe says.

"At the vote center the person is standing in front of the election official they’re signing the roster, they are a real person," Jarboe told FOX40. "With the vote by mail envelope, we have to verify that the envelope is for that election and the signature on that envelope compares with the signature on file and then from there, it’s a matter of getting it open, unfolding a ballot and getting the ballot into the counter."

That 189,000 ballots are more than enough to change the outcome in some local races, including the closely watched district attorney and sheriff's races.

Currently, the incumbents in both of those races hold sizeable leads -- but that may change.