County of Marin - News Releases - Primary Follow-up

For Immediate Release
March 06, 2020

Registrar: 39,000 Votes Yet to be Tallied

Updated Presidential Primary results to be posted by 4 p.m. Friday

San Rafael, CA – The tally continues for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election, and staff from the Marin County Elections Department is eager to deliver those final totals. An updated online tally is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, March 6, but Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts said it might be another two weeks before all ballots are processed and tallied.

A view of the elections department equipment room, with a tray of ballot envelopes on a shelf in the foreground and three workers talking in the background.Results from approximately 39,000 ballots needed to be recorded as of Friday morning.
Roberts said 33,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 6,000 provisional ballots remained to be tallied as of Friday morning. Nearly 24,000 vote-by-mail ballots arrived on Election Day either in the mail or from voters who dropped off ballots at a precinct or at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael. The influx is consistent with a statewide trend that indicates many voters held on to their vote-by-mail ballots until Election Day or the final days before Election Day.

A few hundred more ballots were expected to arrive Friday, March 6, Roberts said. That is the last day for mailed ballots to be received.

Roberts said 35 trained full-time and part-time staff members are working overtime and into this weekend just as they did last weekend. After posting updated results Friday afternoon, staff plans to make additional updates periodically until the tally is completed. 

The final local voter turnout will be better known next week, but Roberts said it’s looking like Marin will have a turnout of about 66%, up from 55% in the June 2018 gubernatorial primary and up from 41% in the June 2014 gubernatorial election. The figure from the June 2016 presidential primary was nearly 68%.

State law was changed in 2017 to allow mailed ballots to be counted up to three days after an election as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. Another recent law change allows voters to register on Election Day at the Civic Center or a polling place and submit a provisional ballot, which requires manual verification before being counted.

The initial process of checking mailed ballots includes entering the sealed ballots into a computer system and verifying that signatures on the envelope match the signature on the voter registration card.

“Verification is the most time-intensive step in processing vote-by-mail ballots and is required by law,” Roberts said. “We have to send a letter to voters whose mailed ballot envelope has a missing or mismatched signature, giving them time to fix the problem. Overall, our new voting system is very efficient and we are able to count ballots much faster once they’ve been verified.”

By law, the elections team has until March 31 to certify and report final results to the California Secretary of State.


Lynda Roberts
Registrar of Voters
Elections Department

Marin Civic Center Administration Building
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 121
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6401
Email: Lynda Roberts
Elections website