With Millions of Uncounted Votes, Does Prop 37 Still Have a Chance?


With 1.9 million uncounted votes, supporters of Prop 37 are demanding every vote be counted to determine whether the GMO labeling measure was actually defeated on Election Day.

A week may have passed since Election Day but for some the campaigning isn’t over. Supporters of California’s Proposition 37 (GMO food labeling) are urging Secretary of State Bowen to tally the 1.9 million uncounted votes to determine whether it was too early to pronounce Prop 37’s defeat without all of the votes.

If it had passed, Proposition 37 would have required the labeling of all food products containing genetically modified organisms. Supporters of the proposition raised $8.7 million from donors including the Organic Consumers Fund and organic food companies such as Clif Bar. Opponents, however, raised five times more money from a coalition of companies including Monsanto and Du Pont with many attributing the measures defeat to blistering ads that framed the measure as complex, based on unfounded scientific evidence, and harmful to farmers.

Disappointed with its narrow defeat by 53 percent of the vote, supporters are now petitioning to require that all votes cast in the November 6 election be counted immediately.  Yes on 37 failed by just 559,776 votes. “With the possibility of many more ‘yes’ votes just sitting out there uncounted, is this a fair election result? “asks investigative journalist Jon Rappopor who personally called the voter registrar offices in the largest California counties and discovered that nearly 1.7 million votes remained uncounted in Santa Clara, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County alone the day after the election. (That number now stands at 877,060 uncounted votes).

Yesterday, ABC News reported that there are thousands of  vote-by-mail ballots in California that won’t count in the final November tally because of issues related to postmarks and signatures.”Some signatures on ballot envelopes don’t match the ones on the voter registration card. Other ballots are from previous elections. But the most common reason a ballot doesn’t get counted: it is not in the county’s hands by 8 p.m. on Election Night.”

In a statement on  November 8th, Secretary of State Bowen explained that county elections officials have until December 7 to report their certified vote counts to the Secretary of State and State law requires county elections officials to report their final results and the Secretary of State has until December 14 to certify the results . Yet as we know, election results have been reported since last Tuesday night, so does Prop 37 even have a chance?

Key proponents of the measure — the Organic Consumers Association and the California Right to Know Campaign are “closely monitoring the ongoing vote count process”  and “will challenge the outcome if the final count indicates more Yes than No votes, or if the results are substantially different from our pre-election polls.”

We’ll be watching closely. But the really scary thing is how many other propositions might yet have uncounted votes.

About Sona Makker

Sona is a first-year law student studying technology law at Santa Clara University. She’s an advocate for online privacy, digital rights, and public access to the public domain. If she’s not arguing with her siblings over whether This American Life is better than Radiolab, you’ll probably find her whipping up vegetarian dishes, or attempting to do a headstand in yoga class.
Posted in: Election, Politics
  • http://www.indigenecommunity.info Douglas Jack

    Thank you California for bringing Proposition 37 to the fore for all of us & for following this carefully hopefully to a win. Yes we all have the right to know about GMO’s. Corporations are playing hardball unafraid of great health damage to all of us. With nearly half of North America mobilized, the next step is a boycott of all those companies which supported the No as well as all companies in this network. Such a boycott should cover GMO, Pesticide & complex synthetic chemical Companies. More importantly we need to invest-in the whole system of organic polyculture orchards, foods, transformation everywhere. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/1-indigenous-welcome-orchard-food-production-efficiencies

    • Susan Luber

      This Prop 37 saga has been staggering. First, why weren’t all the votes counted? When are we going to know the reason? How on earth can we trust our system? Second, for many years Trader Joes has required ALL their suppliers to provide proof of GMO-free ingredients. It’s a given. So what’s so hard? C’mon all of you who care what you put into your mouths, fight hard to make sure we know exactly what we are buying. My life has been long and I have had many an instance of boycotting foods that are not proven as safe or acceptable. One product at a time. One step at a time. We can do this!