Hold your horses.
On election night, not long after the polls closed in California, the announcement came out: Prop 37 was losing. A little while later, it was all over. 37 had gone down to defeat.
But is that the whole story? No.
As of 2:30PM today, Thursday, November 8th, two days after the election, many votes in California remain uncounted.
I tried to find out how many.
It turns out that the Secretary of State of CA, responsible for elections in the state, doesn’t know.
I was told all counties in California have been asked, not ordered, to report in with those figures. It’s voluntary.
So I picked out a few of the biggest counties and called their voter registrar offices. Here are the boggling results:
Santa Clara County: 180,000 votes remain uncounted.
Orange County: 241,336 votes remain uncounted.
San Diego County: 475,000 votes remain uncounted.
LA County: 782,658 votes remain uncounted.
In just those four counties, 1.6 million votes remain uncounted.
The California Secretary of State’s website indicates that Prop 37 is behind by 559,776 votes.
So in the four counties I looked into, there are roughly three times as many uncounted votes as the margin of Prop 37’s defeat.
And as I say, I checked the numbers in only four counties. There are 54 other counties in the state. Who knows how many votes they still need to process?
So why is anyone saying Prop 37 lost?
People will say, “Well, it’s all about projections. There are experts. They know what they’re doing. They made a prediction…”
Really? Who are those experts? I have yet to find them.
For big elections, the television networks rely on a private consortium called the National Election Pool (NEP). NEP does projections and predictions. Did NEP make the premature call on Prop 37? So far I see no evidence one way or the other.
NEP makes some calls for the television networks, but NEP is composed of CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, and AP. It could hardly be called an independent source of information for those networks.
NEP has AP (Associated Press) do the actual vote tabulating, and NEP also contracts work out to Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International to do exit polls and projections based on those polls.
Edison Media Research did the exit polls in the state of Washington for this election. How? They surveyed 1493 people by phone. Based on that, I assume they made all the projections for elections in that state, even though there is no in-person voting in Washington, and voters can submit their ballots by mail, postmarked no later than election Tuesday. So how could Edison know anything worth knowing or projecting on election night?
Both Edison Research and Mitofsky were involved in the 2004 election scandal (Kerry-Bush), in which their exit polls confounded network news anchors, because the poll results were so far off from the incoming vote-counts.
Edison and Mitofsky issued a later report explaining how the disparity could have occurred; they tried to validate their own exit-poll data and the vote-count, which was like explaining a sudden shift in ocean tides by saying clouds covered the moon. It made no sense.
So if NEP did the premature Prop 37 projections that handed 37 a resounding loss, there is little reason to accept their word.
We’re faced with a scandal here. An early unwarranted projection against Prop 37 was made, when so many votes were still uncounted.
Those votes are still uncounted.
Why should we believe anything that comes next?