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Prop. 29 Tobacco Tax Still Too Close To Call, Results May Take Weeks

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Two weeks after California voters went to the polls, the fate of a ballot measure that would impose a new tax on cigarettes remains uncertain.

Proposition 29, which proposed a $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise millions for disease research and prevention programs, is losing by about 17,000 votes as of Tuesday. Election officials said it could be two more weeks before voters know if the measure passed or not.

During election night on June 5th, results showed Proposition 29 losing narrowly. Since then, the gap has closed to less than half a percentage point.

KCBS' Doug Sovern Reports:

With 400,000 more ballots to check and count, Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir said results may not be certain until early July.

"The state gives us 28 days to totally certify an election. That's not just counting ballots. That's accounting for every ballot printed, cast, spoiled and not cast. It's an accounting process you want us to go through," Weir said.

The June primary was the first time that a majority of California ballots were cast by mail. As a result, Weir and his fellow registrars have to hand-check every single one of those signatures to make sure they're legitimate. They also need to make sure absentee voters didn't also vote at a polling place.

Weir said checking signatures have become more and more of a mechanical process, but it does take some time.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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