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Expected Timeline of Election Results, CA-21 Congressional Race 2020

Contents
Summary
Timeline of Ballot Counting
Previous Trends in Vote Counting for this District
Additional Background
Quick Resources
Legal Context

Summary

Election calls can be difficult, and this will be an election unlike any in American history, given the number of early vote and vote-by-mail ballots to be cast due to changes in voting procedure triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

America’s intelligence agencies are warning that enemies of the United States are waging disinformation campaigns, which may include false election results. This memo serves as a guide to ballot counting and election results in California’s 21st congressional district.

This memo will cover the timeline of ballot submission and tabulation, previous trends in vote tabulation in CA-21, and voting information and where to find vote totals for each county in CA-21.

Timeline of Ballot Counting

Nov. 3 Election Day polling locations in all 4 counties open, 7am-8pm.
Nov. 4-20 Counties continue to collect and tabulate election results from in-person and vote by mail ballots.
Nov. 20 Final day for VBM ballots to arrive at each county registrar.
Nov. 25 Final day for county registrars to notify voters of challenged ballot.
Dec. 3 Election results are certified by each county.

Previous Trends in Vote Counting for this District

In 2018, TJ Cox won the general election by 862 votes, or 50.4% of the vote total. The final vote share was 57,239 for Cox and 56,377 for Republican David Valadao.

The AP erroneously called the race for Valadao and retracted its call on November 26, 2018. Local news followed suit, writing up Valadao’s presumed victory. The AP called the race for Cox on November 28, and Valadao conceded on December 6.

Much like 2018, we expect that all ballots will not be counted by midnight on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Media outlets are cautioned that outstanding uncounted mail and provisional ballots may change the candidates’ vote share, especially depending on each county’s timeline for tabulating votes by each ballot method (in person, by mail, or provisional).

Additional Background

California’s 21st congressional district contains the entirety of Kings County, large portions of Fresno and Kern Counties, and a small portion of Tulare County.

These counties allow voters to cast ballots through official ballot dropboxes, in the mail, at early-in-person voting sites, and at polling locations open throughout Election Day. Each county tabulates its votes separately and reports the results to the California Secretary of State.

Voters in Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties can vote at any location in their county. For example, a voter registered in Earlimart (Tulare County) can deliver their ballot to a voting box or polling place in Porterville (Tulare County); however, a voter registered in Earlimart cannot drop off their ballot in Delano (Kern County).

In Kern County, voters must either mail in their ballot, deliver their mail ballot to their polling place or the County Registrar of Voters office in Bakersfield, or go in-person to their regular polling place to cast their ballot. Kern County Voters who choose to vote in person must bring their mail ballot with them, or else they will be asked to cast a provisional ballot. Similarly, Kern County voters who go to the wrong polling place to vote in person will be asked to cast a provisional ballot.

Members of the public are welcome to watch ballot counting in each county, including the acceptance and rejection of provisional and mail ballots. The validity of a provisional ballot is at the discretion of each county’s registrar. Provisional ballots are counted last, after all mail and in-person votes are tabulated.

Quick Resources

Election results can be found at the following county websites:

Updated ballot return numbers are available from Political Data Inc. (PDI). The PDI early vote report shows the number of voters who have cast a ballot and their political party.

Expected Timeline of Election Results, CA-21 Congressional Race 2020 Contents Summary Timeline of Ballot Counting Previous Trends in Vote Counting for this District Additional Background Quick

RESULTS: Incumbent Democrat TJ Cox and David Valadao square up for a rematch in California’s 21st Congressional District

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Democratic Rep. TJ Cox and Republican David Valadao are set for a rematch in California’s 21st Congressional District as Valadao looks to reclaim the House seat he once held for three terms. In 2018, Cox defeated Valadao by only 862 votes, a margin of 0.8 percentage points, in a tightly contested race.

The candidates

Rep. TJ Cox is a California native campaigning for reelection on a platform of immigration policy reform, supporting schools, and healthcare for all, and has consistently hammered Valadao on his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Previously an engineer working on water conveyance systems and dams, Cox has introduced multiple bills and passed one item of legislation to increase the quality of central California’s drinking water and river restoration infrastructure.

Valadao, a former member of the California State Assembly and farmer, has been in politics for most of his life. The son of Portuguese immigrants, Valadao noted that he could not support then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency in 2016. But after President Trump was elected, Valadao voted in line with the president 97.9% of the time according to FiveThirtyEight, and is supporting Trump in 2020.

Cox has faced some scrutiny and controversy in his short tenure in Congress for owing over $140,000 in unpaid federal taxes, and owing tens of thousands of back wages to workers, initially failing to disclose some of his financial holdings, and, as the Fresno Bee reported, listing two separate primary residences in Maryland and California for tax purposes, which Cox explained as an “honest mistake” and subsequently fixed. He eventually did pay back employee back wages.

The Bee has now endorsed Valadao over Cox in the race, writing: “While Cox has sponsored or cosponsored useful legislation in his first term, the financial revelations raise questions about Cox’s credibility. Voters should retire Cox and bring back Valadao, who is once again seeking the seat.”

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The district

Located in the south-central region of California, the state’s 21st Congressional District comprises Kings County and portions of Tulare, Kern, and Fresno counties. A little over 70% of the district is Hispanic and has a median household income of $37,228, according to the 2010 US Census.

The district backed President Barack Obama by 11 points in 2012 and voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a margin of over 15 points in 2016, according to the Daily Kos.

The money race

According to campaign finance filings, the incumbent, Cox, has raised $5.1 million, spent $4.6 million, and has around $535,000 in cash on hand. His opponent, Valadao, raised $3.7 million in the same period of time, spent $2.9 million, and has around $931,600 on hand.

In 2018, Cox defeated Valadao by only 862 votes, a margin of 0.8 percentage points, in a tightly contested race.