9:02 p.m. UPDATE: Alameda County has just said polls will stay open until 10 p.m.
The Obama campaign put out a press release that Alameda County Judge John Tiger ruled that precincts in Alameda County which ran out of ballots will stay open until 9 p.m. (SEE UPDATE BELOW ABOUT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.)
Voters who are in line by 9 p.m. will be allowed to vote until 9:30 p.m.
Expect to make your choices on a photocopy of the ballot, which won’t be counted tonight. They must be verified through the voter verification process.
State law says no county may release results while the polls remain open anywhere in the state. Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir said he is awaiting instructions from Secretary of State Debra Bowen before he releases his first results.
But observant voters will note that the Secretary of State’s web site does have a few results posted, about 1.4 percent of precincts. I have an inquiry into the state on this question.
Here’s an update from my MediaNews colleague Josh Richman, reporter for the Oakland Tribune, who is out in the field tonight:
Volunteers were trooping out of the Obama campaign headquarters in downtown Oakland as 8 p.m. approached, some headed to parties and some to polling places to ensure voters still waiting in line at closing time would still get to cast ballots.
But as the hour struck, word came down that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Tigar had issued an order that any polling place which had run out of Democratic ballots earlier in the day — overrun by an unexpected wave of decline-to-state voters who chose to cast ballots in the Democrats’ open primary — would have to remain open until 9 p.m., with any left waiting in line at that hour allowed to vote until 9:30 p.m.
“We have ordered all polling places in Alameda County to remain open if anybody is in line waiting to vote until 10 p.m. at the latest — only if anybody is in line to vote — due to ballot shortages that plagued some polling places in the county this afternoon,” county registrar spokesman Guy Ashley said at 8:25 p.m.
Asked how many precincts had run short of ballots earlier, he replied he wasn’t sure: “I heard about a dozen, but that’s just what I heard in passing.”
8:45 p.m.Update from Richman:
Alameda County spokesman Guy Ashley just called back and said 14 polling places in Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont had run short of Democratic ballots.
He also said there was no court order. Although Tigar was involved, it was actually Judge Winifred Smith who checked with the state Administrative Office of the Courts in interpreting the Elections Code, and then advised County Counsel Richard Winnie to advise the registrar’s office to extend the poll hours.