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Prop 37 Not Yet Dead – Votes STILL Being Tallied

It might seem like old news that Proposition 37, the ballot measure calling for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, was defeated Nov. 6, with nearly 53 percent of California voters rejecting it.

But is it over?

Some groups, including Sustainable Fairfax andGood Earth, say not so fast, posting on Facebook that the outcome of the race could change after all the ballots are counted.

The proposition has tallied 4.6 million “Yes” votes and 5.2 million “No” votes with 100 percent of the California precincts reporting.

But on Nov. 9, the California Secretary of State reported there were still 3.3 million ballots left to be counted. County officials have until Dec. 4 to finish processing and counting ballots. The California Secretary of State will certify election results on Dec. 14. (The Secretary of State does not annouce the winners of any contest before that date, but media outlets and campaigns usually call an election earlier.)

Some Marin groups and circulating e-mails are encouraging voters to call the Secretary of State to make sure everything gets counted. But, as provisional and mail-in ballot counting is still happening, calling the state isn’t needed, Secretary of State officials confirmed Tuesday morning.

Secretary of State communications officials told Patch every ballot is always counted, no matter how close or far apart the “Yes” and “No” votes are for an item.

Many counties, including Marin, have thousands of provisional and mail-in ballots yet to be counted. After Election Day, Marin County officials still had 40,000 ballots to count, which has left some raceshanging in balance. The Marin County Registrar of Voters updated results Nov. 9 but still has an estimated 25,000 ballots to count.

Good Earth Marketing Director Sheila McNulty said they were still in the process of discovering exactly how many votes had not been counted yet statewide. “There is concern that there still is the possibility that it could pass – it’s not out the realm of possibility,” she said.

Check out this map showing which counties in California voted in support of Proposition 37.

She said the local “Yes on 37” group will meet on Thursday to discuss next steps or determine if asking for a recount is needed.

“We’re kind of catching our breath from pre-election efforts and will see if this is something that possibly could change,” McNulty added.

The ballot measure was a costly one and a bit of a David vs. Goliath battle. Food giants like Monsanto, DuPoint, PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg raised nearly $50 million for No on Prop. 37, while the Yes on 37 campaign raised roughly $7 million.

Proposition 37 backers including those with Label GMOs, have formally said that even though Proposition 37 didn’t pass, it was far from a failure as it gained national exposure to the anti-GMO food movement.

“Pesticide companies led by Monsanto and DuPont, and processed food corporations led by Pepsi and Kraft spent an unprecedented amount of money to confuse and deceive Californians into voting against their right to know what’s in their food,” said Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region director for Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Food & Water Watch in a release after the election. The group helped create a star-studded “Yes on 37” YouTube video featuring Danny Devito, Bill Maher, Emily Deschanel, Dave Matthews and the cast of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Despite trailing statewide, Prop 37 fared well in Marin, where it has garnered more than 61 percent support.

“While disappointed in the result, we believe that this movement to label GE foods is stronger than ever and we will continue to build a robust national grassroots campaign to push for mandatory labeling across the country,” Lynch said.

Proposition 37 supporters are reportedly gathering signatures to put a similar measure on Washington state’s ballot for 2013. This month Washington voters backed same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana, leaving California – long considered the state for progressive measures – in the dust.

GMO labeling legislation is also in the works in Vermont and Connecticut, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Whole Foods Market took a formal stance backing the Proposition 37, which included an appearance from San Rafael resident and co-CEO Walter Robb at the Mill Valley Whole Foods on Miller Avenue.

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