Contra Costa County broke new ground in 2020 U.S. election

The 2020 presidential election may be over but work is still underway in the Bay Area to certify election results.

Exactly three weeks after election day, masked election workers in Martinez processed the final ballots, including those that arrived after Election Day, along with provisional ballots.

The Registrar of Voters in Contra Costa County, Debi Cooper, said people voted early and in numbers they have never seen before.

"More people voted in Contra Costa than ever in history," said Cooper.

She added that 2020 broke new ground with a dramatic increase in vote-by-mail ballots with 91% of those who voted doing so by mail, compared to 64% in the last presidential election.

"We asked them to vote by mail, vote early, and keep everyone safe. And that's what happened," said Cooper.

Contra Costa County had an 84% voter turnout this presidential election, which is up from 79% in 2016.

But 2020 did not break the record 86% turnout recorded in 2008, when Barack Obama became president.

"I think it was one of smoothest run elections ever. We over planned because of all the things that were going on," said Cooper.

Part of that over planning was evident by all of the leftover hand sanitizer and masks that are now being returned, because they weren't needed at the polls.

To complete one of the final certification steps, workers are literally rolling dice to randomly select precincts to check one percent of the ballots by hand.

"We actually tally them by hand to assure that our election tally machines tallied correctly," said Cooper.

The registrar expects to complete the vote certification on Monday, which is one day early.

She said the one big take away from this election is you can never plan too much.