2:30 PM -- The last of the mail pallets with ballot envelopes are on the tables. All three tables are opening them.
2:45 -- Official word from NUHW: "With 75% of the ballots sorted,this looks like a close race."
3:05 PM -- The vote counting area is being cordoned off.
Both sides have grown to over 18 people in the room. The officials demand that both sides get back to 18.
Vote count to begin soon.3:20 The vote count is about to begin.
At each table one vote counter counts groups of 25 Ballots from a sorted pile, then a second vote counter verifies those ballots. The ballots will be sorted into blocs of 25 by vote and turned over to officials.
3:25 PM The counting has begun.
3:35 PM This will be the fastest aspect of the process. It is going very swiftly.
3:45 PM The room is mostly silent at this point.The count continues. Blocs of 25 votes are being handed in every minute or less. (Comment by Sierra - at this rate, we probably will not have a final result tonight. Hopefully the counting process will go a bit faster than what Paul is reporting.)
3:55 PM Still counting.
4:30 The election official has announced that there is an exact 200 vote difference between the sides. One "unit," he does not say which,has 2769 and the other "unit" has 2569.
There are hundreds of set aside and contested ballots. They are discussing those totals now.
4:45 The number of ballots yet to be counted is still being determined. There are hundreds of them and there are numerous categories of ballots that were set aside and not counted. (For example, ballots not sealed in the green secret envelope, ballots damaged in the mail, ballots sealed with tape.)
5PM The leaders on both sides have retreated to strategize how to follow through on the remaining ballots.
Now both sides have returned and are stating what they will and won't accept, and will or won't challenge.
The election officials have agreed to count an initial 300+ ballots that both sides agree upon counting.
Having counted those ballots the officials will weigh whether the margin has closed or not and whether any remaining ballots that stand uncounted could change the outcome.
5:15 PM This goes without saying...but it's clear in the room that the Fresno homecare workers whose election this was are hanging on every decision and every word.
5:35 They've begun counting 290 ballots that were mailed in the retrun envelope but not in the secret ballot envelope.
6:00 The ballots in that pool of 290 are being tallied and we have a new margin shortly...NUHW 119 SEIU 155 was announced to the room with the balance no union or spoiled.
6:10 They now announce that SEIU was the union with 2769 ballots and NUHW was the union with 2569 ballots. The net margin is now being recalculated.
6:25 SEIU-UHW is taking this lull in the action to videotape some celebrations. Both sides are still in the room awaiting the margin announcement.
6:30 SEIU's lawyer claims victory with the new margin and asks that the counting stop. (There are around 100 votes left at issue.) NUHW asks that all the votes be counted and indicates that we want all the ballots protected for a recount. NUHW's lawyer also mentions that there are grave legal issues raised by SEIU's conduct in this election.
More will be added as updates filter in...