Explanation of Number of Precincts Reporting

On Election Night the public often wants to know how the counting of ballots is progressing and when the counting will be completed. On the Elections Results page there are some statistics that provide the public with a very rough estimate of how ballot counting is progressing.

Underneath the title of a contest and above the list of candidates in each contest you will find two numbers separated with a slash followed by a percentage, as shown below:

State Senator District 23
60 / 240    25%

  Vote Count Percent
Candidate 1 350 35%
Candidate 2 650 65%
Total 1000 100%

These numbers represent the number of precincts reporting results (60), the total number of precincts located in the jurisdiction of the particular contest (240) and the percentage of precincts reporting results (25%).

As the vote count is updated throughout Election Night, the number of precincts reporting and the percentage of precincts reporting will increase, as shown below:

State Senator District 23
120 / 240   50%

  Vote Count Percent
Candidate 1 800 40%
Candidate 2 1200 60%
Total 2000 100%

When all the Election Day ballots from all the precincts located in the jurisdiction are counted, the numbers will read, as shown below:

State Senator District 23
240 / 240   100%

  Vote Count Percent
Candidate 1 1000 40%
Candidate 2 1500 60%
Total 2500 100%

The precincts reporting number only provides a very rough estimate of the progress of counting of total ballots for a couple of reasons. First, it only reports on ballots cast at polling places on Election Day. It does not take into account any Vote-by-Mail ballot totals. Second, it is simply a snapshot of how many precincts have had their Election Day ballots run through the ballot scanners. It does not take into account the number of ballots in a precinct. Some precincts have hundreds of ballots and other precincts have no ballots at all! So, there is not always a direct correlation between the number of precincts reporting and the number of ballots counted.

In the above example, there were 1,000 votes counted in the first 25 percent of precincts reporting, 1,000 votes counted in the next 25 percent of precincts reporting for a total of 2,000 votes. You might expect to find an additional 2,000 votes in the last 50 percent of precincts reporting, but only an additional 500 votes were counted for a total of 2,500.

The reason is that there are many precincts that have zero voters and in our software program precincts with zero voters arenít reported until all other precincts have reported their results. So on Election Night it is possible that the percentage of precincts reporting can suddenly rise to 100 percent without a drastic change in the number in the vote count.

To give some perspective to this issue, there are 1,609 precincts in San Bernardino County. Of those, many precincts are located in remote areas of the County and have very few registered voters residing in them. In fact, 438 precincts have no registered voters in them at all.